Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Missing Link to Cloud Formation Found

12.08.2009
New chemical research shows how cloud seedlings form over forested areas.

The discovery of an unknown hitherto chemical compound in the atmosphere may help to explain how and when clouds are formed. The discovery of the so called dihydroxyepoxides (an aerosol-precursor), is reported in this week's issue of Science by a team comprising of researchers from the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) and the University of Copenhagen (UoC).

Professor Henrik Kjærgaard from the Department of Chemistry at the UoC calls the new compounds a missing link in the formation of clouds.

- "We know that aerosols are important in the formation of clouds but, we didn't know much about how the aerosols themselves were formed. This new compound may be just what we were looking for," says the professor who has recently moved from University of Otago, New Zealand to fill his new appointment in Copenhagen. The new compound was originally found when a team of researchers from Caltech mounted a measuring device known as a Chemical Ionization Mass Spectrometer (CIMS) on an aeroplane, and flew it over the oaken forests of Northern America.

Maple Clouds
Next to methane, deciduous plants and trees such as oak and maple, are known to be the largest source of hydrocarbons in the atmosphere; an important factor in climate-change. As a result, the researchers went into the lab to calculate what occurs to the tree-released hydrocarbon known as isoprene, when it meets other compounds in the atmosphere. Based on previous research, isoprene was expected to break down into smaller molecules. But previous research was done with air found over cities, where levels of the combustion by-product NOx are very high. And the chemicals formed when isoprene interacts with NOx do not easily form aerosols. However, when subjected to air as found over pristine stretches of forest, the fate of the tree-released hydrocarbons turned out to be a very different one. Without the NOx to skew the process, isoprene unexpectedly degraded into the new compound: dihydroxyepoxide. This new compound appears to be extremely reactive and likely to form aerosols.
Clouds: Central to Climate Studies
The study detailed in this week's issue of Science, reports the laboratory measurement of the isoprene degradation by hydroxyl radicals "the vacuum cleaner of the atmosphere". The detection of these epoxides as a significant final product in the isoprene breakdown was supported by isotope and theoretical studies, and corroborated the field measurements. The theoretical studies from Kjaergaar's group at the University of Otago, improved the CIMS technique and supported the chemical degradation mechanisms proposed. Discovering a new and unexpected atmospheric compound in the air over forests is fundamental research. Nevertheless, with manmade climate-change looming on the horizon, the research might find applications sooner that expected. The new aerosol-precursor may be extremely important when researchers attempt to compute projected climate change.

- "That means, that the new compound is a missing link in more that one sense", Professor Kjærgaard states. "Clouds can retain as well as block the heat of the sun, so, if we don't understand what drives the formation of clouds, our climate-models are bound to be less than exact".

Jes Andersen | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.ku.dk

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Unique genome architectures after fertilisation in single-cell embryos
30.03.2017 | IMBA - Institut für Molekulare Biotechnologie der Österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften GmbH

nachricht Transport of molecular motors into cilia
28.03.2017 | Aarhus University

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: A Challenging European Research Project to Develop New Tiny Microscopes

The Institute of Semiconductor Technology and the Institute of Physical and Theoretical Chemistry, both members of the Laboratory for Emerging Nanometrology (LENA), at Technische Universität Braunschweig are partners in a new European research project entitled ChipScope, which aims to develop a completely new and extremely small optical microscope capable of observing the interior of living cells in real time. A consortium of 7 partners from 5 countries will tackle this issue with very ambitious objectives during a four-year research program.

To demonstrate the usefulness of this new scientific tool, at the end of the project the developed chip-sized microscope will be used to observe in real-time...

Im Focus: Giant Magnetic Fields in the Universe

Astronomers from Bonn and Tautenburg in Thuringia (Germany) used the 100-m radio telescope at Effelsberg to observe several galaxy clusters. At the edges of these large accumulations of dark matter, stellar systems (galaxies), hot gas, and charged particles, they found magnetic fields that are exceptionally ordered over distances of many million light years. This makes them the most extended magnetic fields in the universe known so far.

The results will be published on March 22 in the journal „Astronomy & Astrophysics“.

Galaxy clusters are the largest gravitationally bound structures in the universe. With a typical extent of about 10 million light years, i.e. 100 times the...

Im Focus: Tracing down linear ubiquitination

Researchers at the Goethe University Frankfurt, together with partners from the University of Tübingen in Germany and Queen Mary University as well as Francis Crick Institute from London (UK) have developed a novel technology to decipher the secret ubiquitin code.

Ubiquitin is a small protein that can be linked to other cellular proteins, thereby controlling and modulating their functions. The attachment occurs in many...

Im Focus: Perovskite edges can be tuned for optoelectronic performance

Layered 2D material improves efficiency for solar cells and LEDs

In the eternal search for next generation high-efficiency solar cells and LEDs, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and their partners are creating...

Im Focus: Polymer-coated silicon nanosheets as alternative to graphene: A perfect team for nanoelectronics

Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are less stable. Now researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have, for the first time ever, produced a composite material combining silicon nanosheets and a polymer that is both UV-resistant and easy to process. This brings the scientists a significant step closer to industrial applications like flexible displays and photosensors.

Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

International Land Use Symposium ILUS 2017: Call for Abstracts and Registration open

20.03.2017 | Event News

CONNECT 2017: International congress on connective tissue

14.03.2017 | Event News

ICTM Conference: Turbine Construction between Big Data and Additive Manufacturing

07.03.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

'On-off switch' brings researchers a step closer to potential HIV vaccine

30.03.2017 | Health and Medicine

Penn studies find promise for innovations in liquid biopsies

30.03.2017 | Health and Medicine

An LED-based device for imaging radiation induced skin damage

30.03.2017 | Medical Engineering

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>