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.
- "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!
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