Characteristics of Regional Aerosols: Southern Arizona and Eastern Pacific Ocean
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
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AbstractAtmospheric aerosols impact the quality of our life in many direct and indirect ways. Inhalation of aerosols can have harmful effects on human health. Aerosols also have climatic impacts by absorbing or scattering solar radiation, or more indirectly through their interactions with clouds. Despite a better understanding of several relevant aerosol properties and processes in the past years, they remain the largest uncertainty in the estimate of global radiative forcing. The uncertainties arise because although aerosols are ubiquitous in the Earth's atmosphere they are highly variable in space, time and their physicochemical properties. This makes in-situ measurements of aerosols vital in our effort towards reducing uncertainties in the estimate of global radiative forcing due to aerosols. This study is an effort to characterize atmospheric aerosols at a regional scale, in southern Arizona and eastern Pacific Ocean, based on ground and airborne observations of aerosols. Metals and metalloids in particles with aerodynamic diameter (Dp) smaller than 2.5μm are found to be ubiquitous in southern Arizona. The major sources of the elements considered in the study are identified to be crustal dust, smelting/mining activities and fuel combustion. The spatial and temporal variability in the mass concentrations of these elements depend both on the source strength and meteorological conditions. Aircraft measurements of aerosol and cloud properties collected during various field campaigns over the eastern Pacific Ocean are used to study the sources of nitrate in stratocumulus cloud water and the relevant processes. The major sources of nitrate in cloud water in the region are emissions from ships and wildfires. Different pathways for nitrate to enter cloud water and the role of meteorology in these processes are examined. Observations of microphysical properties of ambient aerosols in ship plumes are examined. The study shows that there is an enhancement in the number concentration of giant cloud condensation nuclei (Dp>2 μm) in ship plumes relative to the unperturbed background regions over the ocean.
Degree ProgramGraduate College