Jul 27, 2012
Technique developed to see pollutants through cloud formationsBack
Africa|Aircraft|CoAL|Engineering|Health|Paper|Solar|System|Systems|Africa|North America|South America|UI College|University Of Iowa|Chemical And Biochemical Engineering|Coal-fired Electricity Generating Plants|Systems|Africa|North America|South America|Environmental|Greg Carmichael|Kirk Ayers|Pablo Saide|Patrick Minnis|Scott Spak|Iowa|Environmental Engineering|Remote Sensing
Asatellite technique to better estimate con- centrations of pollutants, such as soot, through cloud cover has been developed by University of Iowa (UI) scientists, the university said in a statement.
Clouds block remote-sensing satellites’ ability to detect, and thus calculate, the concentration of pollution nearer to the ground. This includes particles (commonly known as soot), which reduce the air quality and affect the weather as well as the climate.
UI researchers have developed a new technique to evaluate how aerosol pollutants affect clouds, enabling scientists to examine clouds to determine particle concentrations in the atmosphere below.
“Particles in the atmosphere (aerosols) interact with clouds, changing their properties. With this technique, we can use remote sensing observations from satellites to estimate cloud properties in order to correct predictions of particle concentrations. This is possible, owing to a numerical model that describes these aerosol-cloud interactions,” said UI Center for Global and Regional Research (CGRER) environmental engineering doctoral student and researcher Pablo Saide.
The new technique is expected to find imme- diate application across a range of activities. Examples include air-quality forecasting, numerical weather prediction, climate projections, oceanic and anthropogenic emissions estimations, as well as health-effect studies, added UI College of Engineering co-author and assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering Scott Spak.
“Unlike previous methods, this technique can directly improve predictions of near- surface, fine-mode aerosols, such as coal-fired electricity generating plants and wood-fuelled cooking fires, responsible for human health impacts and low-cloud radiative forcing (solar heating),” said UI CGRER codirector, professor of chemical and biochemical engineering and co-author Greg Carmichael.
“This technique is also complementary to previous methods used, enabling the observing system to ‘see’ aerosols even under cloudy conditions,” he explained.
Existing weather satellites observe warm, single-layer clouds, such as the stratocumulus clouds that form off the west coasts of Africa, North America and South America. These clouds are thought to be the main factors contributing to climate cooling.
Researchers calculate the number of droplets in the clouds using the satellite data, which are then compared to a model estimate provided by the UI programme.
As airborne particles interact with clouds, the model estimates of particles are corrected so that the model generates a better correlation with the satellite number of droplets.
Particles interacting with clouds are usually below clouds, thus, in some cases, the model corrections can be attributed to emissions made by humans.
The researchers conducted their study using National Science Foundation (NSF) aircraft measurements to make simultaneous cloud and particle observations, which verified satellite observations and the mathematical formulas used to determine the pollution concentrations in the air.
The three UI researchers agree their new technique of detecting aerosols through clouds to make ground observations is likely to generate increasing interest, as the need to infer ground-air pollution levels and mitigate human hazards increases.
Paper co-authors also include space agency National Aeronautics and Space Administration Langley Research Center researcher Patrick Minnis and research support company Science Systems & Applications Incorporate researcher Kirk Ayers.
Edited by: Martin Zhuwakinyu
Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor
To subscribe email firstname.lastname@example.org or click here
To advertise email email@example.com or click here
Other Environment News
Recent Research Reports
Automotive 2016: A review of South Africa's automotive sector (PDF Report)
Creamer Media’s Automotive 2016 Report provides an overview of South Africa’s automotive industry over the past 12 months. The report provides insight into local demand and production, vehicle imports and exports, investment and competitiveness in the sector, as well...
Energy Roundup – April 2016 (PDF Report)
The April 2016 roundup covers activities across South Africa for March 2016 and includes details of a North Gauteng High Court Judge’s dismissal of a court application to postpone the 9.4% electricity tariff increase, which the National Energy Regulator of South...
Electricity 2016: A review of South Africa's electricity sector (PDF Report)
Creamer Media’s Electricity 2016 report provides an overview of South Africa’s electricity sector, focusing on State-owned power utility Eskom and independent power producers, electricity planning, transmission, distribution and the theft thereof, besides other issues.
Energy Roundup – March 2016 (PDF Report)
The March 2016 roundup covers activities across South Africa for February 2016 and includes details of the Department of Energy’s plans to announce the preferred bidders for the first tranche of the coal independent power producer procurement programme; the Council...
Steel 2016: A review of South Africa's steel sector (PDF Report)
Creamer Media’s Steel 2016 Report examines South Africa’s steel industry over the past 12 months. The report provides insight into the global steel market and and particularly into South South Africa’s steel sector, including production and consumption, main...
Construction 2016: A review of South Africa's construction industry (PDF Report)
Creamer Media’s Construction 2016 Report examines South Africa’s construction industry over the past 12 months. The report provides insight into the business environment; key participants; local demand; geographic diversification; corporate activity; black economic...
This Week's Magazine
The two spent-fuel pools at Eskom’s 1 800 MW Koeberg nuclear power station, in the Western Cape, will be full by 2018, increasing the urgency on the State-owned utility to begin pursuing alternative storage options. Koeberg has, over the past 32 years, accumulated a...
South Africa lacks the skills necessary to implement the government’s plan to build 9.6 GWe of new nuclear energy capacity, warns nuclear-qualified Quality Strategies International CEO David Crawford. “Apart from the concern about the affordability of the programme,...
Cybersecurity multinational Check Point has released its latest 700-series cybersecurity systems for small businesses, which draw on its international threat intelligence to provide up-to-date cybersecurity, says Check Point South Africa country manager Doros...
Daimler Trucks and Buses Southern Africa (DTBSA) saw a marked slip in new-vehicle sales in 2015 compared with 2014, with sales dropping from 5 897 units to 5 300 units. The decline came as the South African new truck and bus market declined from 31 558 units in 2014...
Group of 20 (G-20) economies threatened to penalise havens that don’t share information on their banking clients after the leak of the Panama Papers provoked a global uproar over tax evasion. The G-20 will consider “defensive measures” against financial centers and...