Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

The Secret Life Of Acid Dust: Team Discovers Large, New Class Of Airborne Particles Unaccounted For In Climate Models

Date:
December 30, 2004
Source:
Pacific Northwest National Laboratory
Summary:
Dry dust reacts with air pollutants to form dewy particles whose sunlight-reflecting and cloud-altering properties are unaccounted for in atmospheric models.

In the presence of water vapor, calcite crystals (left columns) react with nitric acid to form liquid calcium nitrate particles (right columns). These electron microscopy images illustrate the formation of these new particles in laboratory-controlled experiments with commercial calcite powders (top) and in a sample of authentic dust (bottom), loess collected in a region of China where the loamy soil is high in calcium and particularly reactive.
Credit: Image s by Alexander Laskin, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory.

SAN FRANCISCO -- Dry dust reacts with air pollutants to form dewy particles whose sunlight-reflecting and cloud-altering properties are unaccounted for in atmospheric models.

"Calcite-containing dust particles blow into the air and encounter gaseous nitric acid in polluted air from factories to form an entirely new particle of calcium nitrate," said Alexander Laskin, a senior research scientist at the Department of Energy's Pacific Northwest National Laboratory in Richland, Washington.

"These nitrates have optical and chemical properties that are absolutely different from those of originally dry dust particles, and climate models need to be updated to reflect this chemistry." Calcite dust is ubiquitous in arid areas such as Israel, where this past winter Laskin and colleagues Vicki Grassian, chemistry professor at the University of Iowa, and Yinon Rudich, professor of environmental sciences and energy research at the Weizmann Institute of Science, collected particles for analysis. Laskin presented their findings Tuesday at the American Geophysical Union fall meeting.

Working from a mountaintop, the team collected dust that had blown in from the northern shores of Egypt, Sinai and southern Israel. The particles had mingled with air containing pollutants that originated from Cairo. They analyzed nearly 2,000 individual micron-sized particles and observed the physical and chemical changes with an array of techniques at the W.R. Wiley Environmental Molecular Sciences Laboratory at PNNL.

A key change in the properties of the newly formed nitrate particles is that they begin to absorb water and retain the moisture. These wet particles can scatter and absorb sunlight -- presenting climate modelers, who need to know where the energy is going, a new wild card to deal with. Companion studies of dust samples from the Sahara and the Saudi coast and loess from China show that the higher the calcium in the mineral, the more reactive they are in with nitric acid. And once the particle is changed, it stays that way.

"When dust storms kick up these particles and they enter polluted areas, the particles change," Laskin said. "To what extent this is happening globally, as more of the world becomes industrialized, we don't know. But now we have the laboratory and field evidence that shows it is definitely happening. The story is much more complicated than anybody thought."

###

PNNL (http://www.pnl.gov) is a DOE Office of Science laboratory that solves complex problems in energy, national security, the environment and life sciences by advancing the understanding of physics, chemistry, biology and computation. PNNL employs 3,900, has a $640 million annual budget, and has been managed by Ohio-based Battelle since the lab's inception in 1965.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. "The Secret Life Of Acid Dust: Team Discovers Large, New Class Of Airborne Particles Unaccounted For In Climate Models." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 30 December 2004. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/12/041220003056.htm>.
Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. (2004, December 30). The Secret Life Of Acid Dust: Team Discovers Large, New Class Of Airborne Particles Unaccounted For In Climate Models. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 28, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/12/041220003056.htm
Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. "The Secret Life Of Acid Dust: Team Discovers Large, New Class Of Airborne Particles Unaccounted For In Climate Models." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/12/041220003056.htm (accessed August 28, 2014).

Share This




More Earth & Climate News

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Killer Amoeba Found in Louisiana Water System

Killer Amoeba Found in Louisiana Water System

AP (Aug. 28, 2014) State health officials say testing has confirmed the presence of a killer amoeba in a water system serving three St. John the Baptist Parish towns. (Aug. 28) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Scientists Have Figured Out Why Rocks Move In Death Valley

Scientists Have Figured Out Why Rocks Move In Death Valley

Newsy (Aug. 28, 2014) The mystery of the moving rocks in Death Valley, California, has finally been solved. Scientists are pointing to a combo of water, ice and wind. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Big Waves, Minor Flooding from Hurricane

Big Waves, Minor Flooding from Hurricane

AP (Aug. 27, 2014) Thundering surf spawned by Hurricane Marie pounded the Southern California coast Wednesday, causing minor flooding in a low-lying beach town. High surf warnings were posted for Los Angeles County south through Orange County. (Aug. 27) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Calif. Quake Underscores Need for Early Warning

Calif. Quake Underscores Need for Early Warning

AP (Aug. 26, 2014) Researchers at UC Berkeley are testing a prototype of an earthquake early warning system that California is pursuing years after places like Mexico and Japan already have them up and running. (August 26) 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:
from the past week

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