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NASA satellite measures pollution from east Asia to North America
Date:3/17/2008

d smoke from dust transported to the western regions of North America from East Asia. Looking at four years of data from 2002 to 2005 we estimated the amount of pollution arriving in North America to be equivalent to about 15 percent of local emissions of the U.S. and Canada, Yu said. This is a significant percentage at a time when the U.S. is trying to decrease pollution emissions to boost overall air quality. This means that any reduction in our emissions may be offset by the pollution aerosols coming from East Asia and other regions.

Yu and his colleagues measured the trans-Pacific flow of pollution in teragrams, a unit of measurement of the mass of pollution aerosol (1 teragram is about 2.2 billion pounds). Satellite data confirmed 18 teragrams -- almost 40 billion pounds -- of pollution aerosol was exported to the northwestern Pacific Ocean and 4.5 teragrams nearly 10 billion pounds -- reached North America annually from East Asia over the study period.

Yu points out, however, that the matter of pollution transport is a global one. Our study focused on East Asian pollution transport, but pollution also flows from Europe, North America, the broader Asian region and elsewhere, across bodies of water and land, to neighboring areas and beyond, he said. So we should not simply blame East Asia for this amount of pollution flowing into North America. In fact, in a model study published last November in the Journal of Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics, Mian Chin, also a co-author of this study and an atmospheric scientist at NASA Goddard, suggests that European pollution also makes a significant contribution to the pollution inflow to North America.

Satellite instruments give us the ability to capture more accurate measurements, on a nearly daily basis across a broader geographic region and across a longer time frame so that the overall result is a better estimate than any other measurement method weve had in the past, said study co-author L
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Contact: Lynn Chandler
lynn.chandler-1@nasa.gov
301-286-2806
NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center
Source:Eurekalert

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