'Particle soup' discovery will improve climate predictions

Dec 21, 2009
Prof Hugh Coe

(PhysOrg.com) -- New research from scientists at The University of Manchester is set to improve predictions about climate and air quality - and make life easier for those suffering from respiratory problems.

Atmospheric researchers from the Centre for in the School of Earth, Atmospheric and (SEAES) worked with an international team of 60 scientists to study the behaviour of organic particulate once it has been released into the atmosphere.

Their findings appear in the world-leading journal Science.

Scientists have previously struggled to work out where the organic particulate comes from, why there is so much in the air and what happens to it.

A lack of information about their behaviour has led to incomplete or inaccurate prediction models for climate and air quality.

This is important for people suffering from like asthma, as better modelling and predictions could help them avoid which will adversely affect their health.

Now Manchester researchers and international colleagues have taken a more holistic approach to tracking the life cycles of airbourne compounds - and this promises to improve future predictions.

coat airbourne particles and make up as much as 90 per cent of all fine particle mass floating around in the atmosphere.

These particles influence cloud formation and therefore rainfall, as well as contributing to human disease and illness.

Through field observations and lab experiments, scientists have now found that organic matter tends to end up as a type of ‘goo’ with very similar physical and chemical properties - regardless of the source or where it is found in the atmosphere.

Researchers were surprised to find that organic matter found in airbourne particles looked very similar, whether collected in the heart of Mexico City, in an island in Japan, in a forest in Finland or up a mountain in the Swiss Alps.

As part of the new study, scientists have also created a chemical ‘map’, which provides some clear visualisation of how organic aerosols change once they become part of the particle soup. This promises to let people predict the ability of the organics to participate in .

The research paper’s co-author Prof Hugh Coe of The University of Manchester said: “The organic content of airbourne particles is highly complex, but the approach we have taken in our research greatly simplifies our understanding.

“The particle soup we have found can be boiled down into a few measureable characteristics, such as oxygen to carbon ratio and the volatility of the particles, which are key variables for predicting climate and air quality.

“This international research provides a new framework for improving our knowledge of how organic material forms and how it evolves over time. It shows how in future air quality and climate models can incorporate this complexity in a simple but inclusive way.”

Explore further: Magnitude-7.2 earthquake shakes Mexican capital

More information: The paper, ‘A New Look at Aging Aerosols’, published in the 11 December 2009 edition of 'Science.'

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Tropical cloud 'dust' could hold the key to climate change

Oct 26, 2005

Scientists at the University of Manchester will set off for Australia this week to undertake an in-depth study of tropical clouds and the particles sucked up into them to gain further insight into climate change and the depletion ...

Size Matters: From Aerosol Particles to Cloud Droplets

Jun 02, 2006

Clouds play a central role in the Earth’s climate system and water cycle. A cloud’s behavior depends to a great extent on the number and size of the droplets it is made of. Since each of these droplets ...

Recommended for you

Magnitude-7.2 earthquake shakes Mexican capital

Apr 18, 2014

A powerful magnitude-7.2 earthquake shook central and southern Mexico on Friday, sending panicked people into the streets. Some walls cracked and fell, but there were no reports of major damage or casualties.

User comments : 2

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

Birger
not rated yet Dec 22, 2009
As I recall, organic particles released from boreal forests play a big role in how areosols affect climate. Since modeling aerosol climate effects is notoriously difficult even with the best computers, the input from the Manchester group could play an important role.
stealthc
not rated yet Dec 22, 2009
If scientists in England can cause 'Climategate' to occur because of intentional skewing of data, should we really buy any results about the climate and our effect on it (AGW) given that this university is driving distance from the University of East Anglia? I wouldn't trust it, and I would expect the UN after having instigated the IPCC into manipulating and cherry picking data to show a false prediction, that the UN would simply throw more money at independent peer reviewers to push their agenda and SCAM forward, and to fool us even further into thinking that we are a co2 releasing parasite on this planet.

The UN is the Rothschild' puppet.
The IMF is owned by Rothschild and the people who profit from AGW co-incidentally push this belief and the whole carbon trading scam.

The UN is not to be trusted, this is why they make mistakes such as pushing a swine flu vaccine through the WHO. They only want world government and world tax, as laid out in the Copenhagen agreement.

More news stories

China says massive area of its soil polluted

A huge area of China's soil covering more than twice the size of Spain is estimated to be polluted, the government said Thursday, announcing findings of a survey previously kept secret.

UN weather agency warns of 'El Nino' this year

The UN weather agency Tuesday warned there was a good chance of an "El Nino" climate phenomenon in the Pacific Ocean this year, bringing droughts and heavy rainfall to the rest of the world.

Poll: Big Bang a big question for most Americans

Few Americans question that smoking causes cancer. But they have more skepticism than confidence in global warming, the age of the Earth and evolution and have the most trouble believing a Big Bang created the universe 13.8 ...

Making graphene in your kitchen

Graphene has been touted as a wonder material—the world's thinnest substance, but super-strong. Now scientists say it is so easy to make you could produce some in your kitchen.