Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Scientists Find New Carbon Pollution Called 'Tar Balls'

Date:
March 22, 2004
Source:
American Geophysical Union
Summary:
An international team of scientists has discovered new carbon-bearing particles, which they call "tar balls," in air pollution over Hungary, the Indian Ocean, and southern Africa.

WASHINGTON -- An international team of scientists has discovered new carbon-bearing particles, which they call "tar balls," in air pollution over Hungary, the Indian Ocean, and southern Africa. Tar balls form in smoke from wood fires and agricultural and forest burning. Carbon-bearing particles like tar balls in the lower atmosphere are a concern, they say, because they may affect global climate change, as well as air quality.

Related Articles


The team, headed by Mihály Pósfai, an Earth and environmental science professor at the University of Veszprém in Hungary, completed the first comprehensive study of tar balls and report their findings this month in the Journal of Geophysical Research--Atmospheres, published by the American Geophysical Union.

"They are especially abundant in slightly aged--minutes to hours old--biomass [vegetal] smoke," says co-author Peter Buseck, a geochemist at Arizona State University. That means they probably formed from gases in smoke plumes, he says, and contain organic compounds that absorb sunlight. "Tar balls occur in a variety of atmospheric environments that are affected by human activities," he says.

At first glance, tar balls may look like soot, a common form of carbon pollution in the air, but when observed through an electron microscope, the differences become clear, the researchers say.

"Soot forms in the flame and consists of spheres," Pósfai says. Each soot sphere is made of graphitic layers that are concentrically wrapped like the layers of an onion and, with other soot spheres, forms chains or grape-like clusters, he says. Tar balls, on the other hand, are just individual spheres and do not form chains or clusters. They lack any internal structure and don't have onion-like layers in them. "The internal structure affects the optical properties of the particle--the more ordered the graphitic structure, the darker the color," Pósfai explains. "Dark particles absorb sunlight and thereby heat the atmosphere." While black soot is the major absorber of sunlight in the atmosphere, tar balls may also be absorbing sunlight. "And this is significant," he says.

The research was supported by NASA, the U.S. National Science Foundation, and the Hungarian Science Foundation.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by American Geophysical Union. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

American Geophysical Union. "Scientists Find New Carbon Pollution Called 'Tar Balls'." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 22 March 2004. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/03/040322081822.htm>.
American Geophysical Union. (2004, March 22). Scientists Find New Carbon Pollution Called 'Tar Balls'. ScienceDaily. Retrieved February 27, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/03/040322081822.htm
American Geophysical Union. "Scientists Find New Carbon Pollution Called 'Tar Balls'." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/03/040322081822.htm (accessed February 27, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Earth & Climate News

Friday, February 27, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Death Toll from Afghan Avalanches Tops 200

Death Toll from Afghan Avalanches Tops 200

AFP (Feb. 27, 2015) — More than 200 people have been killed in a series of avalanches triggered by heavy snowfall in Afghanistan. Duration: 00:42 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Winter Storm Means Dangerous Driving in South

Winter Storm Means Dangerous Driving in South

AP (Feb. 26, 2015) — A new winter storm is stretching across the south, making travel treacherous throughout the region. (Feb. 26) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
New York City Surrounded by Ice Floes

New York City Surrounded by Ice Floes

AP (Feb. 25, 2015) — The freezing temperatures that have plagued much of the eastern U.S. haven&apos;t spared New York City. The waterways around the island of Manhattan are filled with ice. (Feb. 25) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Widespread Flooding in Northern Bolivia

Raw: Widespread Flooding in Northern Bolivia

AP (Feb. 25, 2015) — Bolivian Vice President Alvaro Garcia surveyed severe flood damage in the northern province of Pando, as people were evacuated from partially submerged houses by boat. (Feb. 25) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins