Navigation Links
Going green on hold: Man-made activities can affect 'blue haze,' world's weather

Blue haze," a common occurrence that appears over heavily forested areas around the world, is formed by natural emissions of chemicals, but human activities can worsen it to the point of affecting the world's weather and even cause potential climate problems, according to a study led by a Texas A&M University researcher.

Renyi Zhang, professor of atmospheric sciences who has studied air chemistry for more than 20 years, says blue haze (tiny particles or aerosols suspended in the air) can be negatively affected by human activities such as power plants or fossil-fuel burning.

Team members included researchers from Brookhaven National Laboratory in New York, the Molina Center for Energy and Environment in La Jolla, Calif., and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Their work is published in the current Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences and the project was funded by the Welch Foundation and the U.S. Department of Energy.

Zhang says man-made activities, mainly large power plants that emit huge amounts of particles into the air, can worsen blue haze and cause previously unforeseen problems.

"The study shows that the natural way of blue haze formation is rather inefficient and that human activities make blue haze conditions worse," he confirms.

"What happens is that a mix of natural and man-made chemicals speeds up the formation of these particles in the Earth's atmosphere, and there, they reflect sunlight back into space. The results can affect cloud formations and ultimately, much of the world's climate."

When you walk through a forest or even a large grassy area, it's not uncommon to be able to smell the plants around you, such as pine trees or other vegetation. That smell is nature's way of naturally making organic gases produced by the plants themselves, often millions of tons per day.

Plants, especially trees, emit such gases through their leaves and when an overabundance of such gases is produced, it creates a blue aura, commonly called a "blue haze." Perhaps the best example occurs in the Great Smokey Mountains National Park area of the Southeast United States, where blue haze exists almost on a daily basis, but the condition also occurs all over the world.

When man-made activities emit sulfur dioxide into the air, they contribute to blue haze, usually in a negative way, Zhang explains. Aerosols can be produced by many different processes that occur on land and water or in the atmosphere itself, he notes.

"Weather patterns can be affected worldwide and the blue haze can worsen the breathing problems of many people, such as those who suffer from asthma or emphysema," he adds.

"The chemistry of Earth's atmosphere can be directly affected by these aerosols. From cloud formations to health problems and air pollution, much of it can be traced back to these aerosol particles," he adds, noting that aerosol particles can influence the size and rate of cloud droplets, directly affecting cloud cover and precipitation.

Coal plants, Zhang says, often produced sulfur dioxide, a highly toxic substance that reach the Earth's atmosphere and helps the formation of aerosol particles.

The problem is not new. Zhang says former President Ronald Reagan mentioned it during a speech almost 30 years ago.

"About 80 percent of our air pollution stems from hydrocarbons released by vegetation," Reagan noted during a 1980 speech to an environmental group.

Zhang says more research is needed to "study the full extent of how blue haze is affected by human activities, and perhaps to look at ways to control the situation. It's a problem that can have global consequences."


Contact: Renyi Zhang
Texas A&M University

Related biology news :

1. WPI receives $1.3 million in federal awards for ongoing research in the life sciences
2. A heart healthy diet and ongoing, moderate physical activity may protect against cognitive decline
3. Going bananas for sustainable research -- scientists create fuel from African crop waste
4. Lobster traps going high tech
5. New infant feeding and obesity research adds insight to ongoing issue
6. How mirror neurons allow us to learn and socialize by going through the motions in the head
7. 70 years old and going strong with Down syndrome and no dementia
8. National Zoo scimitar-horned oryx going into the wild
9. Going live with click chemistry
10. Growing greener greens
11. Green tea component may help preserve stored platelets, tissues
Post Your Comments:
(Date:5/16/2017)... May 16, 2017   Bridge Patient Portal ... and MD EMR Systems , an electronic ... for GE, have established a partnership to build ... and the GE Centricity™ products, including Centricity Practice ... These new integrations will allow healthcare ...
(Date:4/17/2017)... , April 17, 2017 NXT-ID, Inc. ... company, announces the filing of its 2016 Annual Report on Form ... Exchange Commission. ... Form 10-K is available in the Investor Relations section of the ... on the SEC,s website at . 2016 ...
(Date:4/11/2017)... N.Y. , April 11, 2017 ... fingerprints, but researchers at the New York University ... College of Engineering have found that partial similarities ... security systems used in mobile phones and other ... thought. The vulnerability lies in the ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:10/11/2017)... (PRWEB) , ... October 11, 2017 , ... ... pathology, announced today it will be hosting a Webinar titled, “Pathology is going ... Pathology Associates , on digital pathology adoption best practices and how Proscia improves ...
(Date:10/11/2017)... ... 2017 , ... A new study published in Fertility and ... in vitro fertilization (IVF) transfer cycles. The multi-center matched cohort study ... comparing the results from the fresh and frozen transfer cohorts, the authors of ...
(Date:10/10/2017)... ... October 10, 2017 , ... ... program has won a US2020 STEM Mentoring Award. Representatives of the FirstHand program ... in Volunteer Experience from US2020. , US2020’s mission is to change the trajectory ...
(Date:10/10/2017)... , ... October 10, 2017 , ... ... and business process optimization firm for the life sciences and healthcare industries, announces ... conference in San Francisco. , The presentation, “Automating GxP Validation for Agile Cloud ...
Breaking Biology Technology: