NASA scientists discovered pollution could catch an airborne "express train," or wind current, from Asia all the way to the southern Atlantic Ocean.
RIDING THE POLLUTION TRAIN
The red arrows on this globe trace the fast track of ozone pollution from Asia as it contributes to the highest ozone episodes found in the South Atlantic. Asian smog with moderate amounts of ozone moves south into the Indian Ocean. Repeatedly, every few weeks, when this ozone can be swept upwards by tall rainclouds, it can then move eastward rapidly across Central Africa (upper arrow). The long red path is shown to end at Ascension Island, but actually a large patch of ozone fills much of the South Atlantic. Additionally, lightning and vegetation burning over Africa could add highly visible "pollution peak" features, but these obvious nearby African sources tell only half the story of the Atlantic ozone episodes. CREDIT: NASA, MODIS image
AN OZONESONDE AND BALLOON
Anne Thompson (NASA, left) and Agnes Phahlane (South African Weather Service, right) prepare to launch a balloon carrying an ozonesonde, a sensor that measures ozone. CREDIT: NASA
Scientists believe during certain seasons, as much as half of the ozone pollution above the Atlantic Ocean may be speeding down a "train" track of air from the Indian Ocean. As it rolls along, it picks up more smog from air peppered with thunderstorms that bring it up from the Earths surface.
Bob Chatfield, a scientist at NASAs Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, Calif. said, "Man-made pollution from Asia can flow southward, get caught up into clouds, and then move steadily and rapidly westward across Africa and the Atlantic, reaching as far as Brazil."
Gretchen Cook-Anderson | GSFC
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