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

orraine Remer, a physical scientist and member of the MODIS science team at NASA Goddard. The MODIS instrument can distinguish between broad categories of particles in the air, and observes Earths entire surface every one to two days, enabling it to monitor movement of the East Asian pollution aerosols as they rise into the lower troposphere, the area of the atmosphere where we live and breathe, and make their way across the Pacific and up into the middle and upper regions of the troposphere.

Remer added that the research team also found that pollution movements fluctuate during the year, with the East Asian airstream carrying its largest load in spring and smallest in summer. The most extensive East Asian export of pollution across the Pacific took place in 2003, triggered by record-breaking wildfires across vast forests of East Asia and Russia. Notably, the pollution aerosols also travel quickly. They cross the ocean and journey into the atmosphere above North American in as little as one week.

Using this imaging instrument, we cannot determine at what level of elevation in the atmosphere pollution travels. So, we do not have a way in this study to assess the degree of impact the pollution aerosols from China have on air quality here once they cross over to North America. We need improved technology to make that determination, said Remer. Nevertheless, we realize there is indeed impact. For example, particles like these have been linked to regional weather and climate effects through interactions between pollution aerosols and the Sun's heat energy. Since pollution transport is such a broad global issue, it is important moving forward to extend this kind of study to other regions, to see how much pollution is migrating from its source regions to others, when, and how fast, said Remer.


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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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