Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

New type of soot particle discovered from wildfire emissions

Date:
July 7, 2014
Source:
Desert Research Institute
Summary:
A team of scientists reports the observation of a previously unrecognized form of soot particle, identified as 'superaggregates,' from wildfire emissions. These particles were detected in smoke plumes from wildfires in Northern California, New Mexico, Mexico City, and India. These particles contribute up to 90-percent more warming than spherical sub-micrometer soot particles, which current climate models use.

These images show typical soot superagregattes observed with an electron microscope in wildfire smoke samples collected from three fires in Northern California, New Mexico and Mexico City.
Credit: Desert Research Institute

Every year, wildfires clear millions of hectares of land and emit around 34-percent of global soot mass into the atmosphere. In certain regions, such as Southeast Asia and Russia, these fires can contribute as much as 63-percent of regional soot mass.

In a paper published in Nature Scientific Reports, a team of scientists led by Rajan Chakrabarty from Nevada's Desert Research Institute report the observation of a previously unrecognized form of soot particle, identified by the authors as "superaggregates," from wildfire emissions. These newly identified particles were detected in smoke plumes from wildfires in Northern California, New Mexico, Mexico City, and India.

For several decades, scientists have been trying to quantitatively assess the impacts of wildfire soot particles on climate change and human health. However, due to the unpredictability of wildfire occurrences and the extreme difficulty in sampling smoke plumes in real-time, accurate knowledge of wildfire-emitted soot physical and optical properties has eluded the scientific community.

Unlike conventional sub-micrometer size soot particles emitted from vehicles and cook stoves, superaggregates are on average ten times longer and have a more compact shape. However, these particles have low effective densities which, according to the authors, gives them similar atmospheric long-range transportation and human lung-deposition characteristics to conventional soot particles.

"Our observations suggest that we cannot simply assume a universal form of soot to be emitted from all combustion sources. Large-scale combustion sources, such as wildfires, emit a different form of soot than say, a small-scale, controlled combustion source, such as vehicles." says Chakrabarty, who also holds a faculty appointment at Washington University in St. Louis.

The study points to the need for revisiting the soot formation mechanism in wildfires, he adds.

The multi-institutional research team first detected the ubiquitous presence of soot superaggregates in smoke plumes from the 2012 Nagarhole National Forest fire in western India.

To verify the presence of superaggregate particles in other fires around the world, the team next analyzed smoke samples collected from the 2010 Millerton Lake fire in Northern California, and the 2011 Las Conchas fire in New Mexico, as well as wildfires near Mexico City. The authors found that a large portion of soot emitted during the flaming phase of these fires were superaggregates.

To assess the potential impact of superaggregates on global climate, scientists also calculated the radiative properties of soot superaggregates using numerically-exact electromagnetic theory.

"We found that superaggregates contribute up to 90-percent more warming than spherical sub-micrometer soot particles, which current climate models use," said Chakrabarty. "These preliminary findings warrant further research to quantify the significant impact these particles may have on climate, human health, and air pollution around the world."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Desert Research Institute. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Rajan K. Chakrabarty, Nicholas D. Beres, Hans Moosmόller, Swarup China, Claudio Mazzoleni, Manvendra K. Dubey, Li Liu, Michael I. Mishchenko. Soot superaggregates from flaming wildfires and their direct radiative forcing. Scientific Reports, 2014; 4 DOI: 10.1038/srep05508

Cite This Page:

Desert Research Institute. "New type of soot particle discovered from wildfire emissions." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 7 July 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/07/140707103639.htm>.
Desert Research Institute. (2014, July 7). New type of soot particle discovered from wildfire emissions. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 23, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/07/140707103639.htm
Desert Research Institute. "New type of soot particle discovered from wildfire emissions." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/07/140707103639.htm (accessed July 23, 2014).

Share This




More Earth & Climate News

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

New Orleans Plans to Recycle Cigarette Butts

New Orleans Plans to Recycle Cigarette Butts

AP (July 21, 2014) — New Orleans is the first U.S. city to participate in a large-scale recycling effort for cigarette butts. The city is rolling out dozens of containers for smokers to use when they discard their butts. (July 21) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Shark Sightings a Big Catch for Cape Tourism

Shark Sightings a Big Catch for Cape Tourism

AP (July 21, 2014) — A rise in shark sightings along the shores of Chatham, Massachusetts is driving a surge of eager vacationers to the beach town looking to catch a glimpse of a great white. (July 21) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Spectacular Lightning Storm Hits London

Spectacular Lightning Storm Hits London

AFP (July 19, 2014) — A spectaCular lightning storm struck the UK overnight Friday. Images of lightning strikes over the Shard and Tower Bridge in central London. Duration: 00:23 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
A Centuries' Old British Tradition Is Far from a Swan Song

A Centuries' Old British Tradition Is Far from a Swan Song

AFP (July 19, 2014) — As if it weren't enough that the Queen is the Sovereign of the UK and 15 other Commonwealth realms, she is also the owner of all Britain's unmarked swans. Duration: 02:18 Video provided by AFP
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