U.S. Department of Energy Office of Biological and Environmental Research

BER Research Highlights


Large Aerosol Particles Play Unexpected Role in Ganges Valley
Published: February 03, 2014
Posted: March 27, 2014

Aerosol particles in the atmosphere may absorb solar radiation, resulting in additional heating in the atmospheric column that affects Earth’s radiative balance. Each aerosol type has distinctive light absorbing characteristics related to its physical and chemical properties. Global climate models cannot resolve the details of each individual aerosol particle, so they use broad assumptions about aerosol characteristics in their computations. Generally, climate models assume that absorbing aerosols are small (less than 1 micron). Recent observations and radiative transfer calculations by U.S. Department of Energy scientists using data from the Atmospheric Radiation Measurement (ARM) Mobile Facility (AMF) deployment to India’s Ganges Valley indicate a surprising amount of light absorption by larger aerosol particles (1-10 microns). The observations indicate that light absorption by the super-micron-sized particles was nearly 30% greater than that by smaller particles. Periods of increased absorption by the larger particles ranged from a week to a month. The exact origin of the large aerosol particles is unknown, but the team analyzed the air mass trajectories using meteorological data and determined that the particles were produced locally rather than transported long distances from other regions. A potential source of the large particles is trash burning in the populated valley below the observational site. The study indicates that large absorbing particles could be an important component of the regional-scale atmospheric energy balance in developing countries and need to be considered in global and regional climate models.

Reference: Manoharan, V. S., R. Kotamarthi, Y. Feng, and M. P. Cadeddu. 2014. “Increased Absorption by Coarse Aerosol Particles over the Gangetic-Himalayan Region,” Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics 14, 1159-65. DOI: 10.5194/acp-14-1159-2014. (Reference link)

Contact: Wanda Ferrell, SC-23.1, (301) 903-0043, Sally McFarlane, SC-23.1, (301) 903-0943
Topic Areas:

  • Research Area: Atmospheric System Research
  • Facility: DOE ARM User Facility

Division: SC-23.1 Climate and Environmental Sciences Division, BER

 

BER supports basic research and scientific user facilities to advance DOE missions in energy and environment. More about BER

Recent Highlights

May 10, 2019
Quantifying Decision Uncertainty in Water Management via a Coupled Agent-Based Model
Considering risk perception can improve the representation of human decision-making processes in age [more...]

May 09, 2019
Projecting Global Urban Area Growth Through 2100 Based on Historical Time Series Data and Future Scenarios
Study provides country-specific urban area growth models and the first dataset on country-level urba [more...]

May 05, 2019
Calibrating Building Energy Demand Models to Refine Long-Term Energy Planning
A new, flexible calibration approach improved model accuracy in capturing year-to-year changes in bu [more...]

May 03, 2019
Calibration and Uncertainty Analysis of Demeter for Better Downscaling of Global Land Use and Land Cover Projections
Researchers improved the Demeter model’s performance by calibrating key parameters and establi [more...]

Apr 22, 2019
Representation of U.S. Warm Temperature Extremes in Global Climate Model Ensembles
Representation of warm temperature events varies considerably among global climate models, which has [more...]

List all highlights (possible long download time)