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UI researchers develop technique to help pollution forecasters see past clouds
Date:7/10/2012

d-fueled cooking firesresponsible for human health impacts and low-cloud radiative forcing (solar heating)," says Greg Carmichael, co-author, professor of chemical and biochemical engineering, and CGRER co-director. "This technique is also complementary to previous methods used, allowing the observing system to 'see aerosols' even under cloudy conditions."

Here's how the technique works:

  • 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 compared to a model estimate provided by the UI program.
  • As airborne particles interact with clouds changing their properties, model estimates of particles are corrected so that the model will generate a better agreement 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 manmade emissions.

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.

All three UI researchers agree that their new technique for seeing through clouds to make ground observations is likely to generate growing interest as the need to infer ground air pollution levels, and the need to mitigate the human hazards posed, grows larger.


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Contact: Gary Galluzzo
gary-galluzzo@uiowa.edu
319-384-0009
University of Iowa
Source:Eurekalert

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