Researchers from the University of Maryland College Park, the University of Maryland Baltimore, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center and the Universities Space Research Association have found that near half of the aerosols affecting the quality of air and causing North American climate change seem to be coming from other continents, such as Asia, Africa and Europe. A research team from UMD, led by Hongbin Yu, found that atmospheric particles are able to travel thousands of miles and impact the environment in other locations. Of the overall annual accumulation of foreign aerosols, 87.5% is dust from across the Pacific Ocean, 6.25% is composed of combustion aerosols from this same region and 6.25% is Saharan dust from across the Atlantic Ocean.
According to a Maryland statement, “This could offset emission controls in North America and suggests that there are more factors affecting domestic pollution than the environmental protection agency has accounted for.” Most of the pollution in the North American atmosphere is not industrial emissions, but rather dust from Asia, Africa and the Middle East. This study creates the first satellite-measurement-based estimate of the amount of airborne particles that come from overseas. It was found that the migrating dust usually comes in at high altitudes and is likely to affect upper atmospheric conditions in the region.
August 23, 2012
UMD Researchers Find Half of Aerosols in America Originate from Other Continents
Did You Know
UMD's Neutral Buoyancy Research Facility, which simulates weightlessness, is one of only two such facilities in the U.S.