A team of Los Alamos scientists recently returned from a month-long data-gathering trip to Mexico City as part of an international, multi-agency environmental science collaboration. The March campaign was designed to examine the chemical and physical transformations of gases and aerosols in the polluted outflow from the Mexico City metropolitan area. With a population of 25 million, Mexico City is North Americas largest city, what scientists are calling a megacity. As such, it provides an excellent testing ground for understanding the regional and global impacts of increasing urbanization.
The Los Alamos team was led by Manvendra Dubey and included Claudio Mazzoleni and Thom Rahn. Together, they performed measurements of the radiative and optical properties of soot using a state-of-the-art Los Alamos-developed field-deployable photo-acoustic instrument. The Los Alamos team also provided the only measurements of molecular hydrogen in Mexico City. The Los Alamos measurements were designed to provide a unique data set for quantifying Mexico Citys atmospheric soot, which is little more than fine carbon particles.
Soot is produced by diesel combustion, burning of biomass and power plants. Soot-containing aerosols absorb solar radiation, which causes atmospheric warming. However, soots warming potential is determined by complex interactions with other anthropogenic aerosols, such as sulfate and organics, which by scattering solar radiation tend to offset the warming caused by pure soot.
Todd Hanson | EurekAlert!
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