BER launches Environmental System Science Program. Visit our new website under construction!

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

BER Research Highlights


Does Haze over Cities Contribute to Air Pollution and Climate Forcing?
Published: June 23, 2015
Posted: January 05, 2016

Hanging over many major cities for days on end, and especially during summer, is a brownish haze that some scientists think contributes to air quality issues and climate forcing because of its potential for absorbing sunlight and trapping surface heat. A team of scientists from Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and the Department of Energy’s Environmental Molecular Sciences Laboratory (EMSL) has started to examine the chemistry of brown carbon, a type of particle found in that haze. The team used analytical capabilities at EMSL, including high-resolution mass spectrometry, to study the particles that form around the chemical toluene, a common pollutant emitted to the atmosphere and found in the haze. They discovered that the addition of nitrogen oxide, which is found in the exhaust from combustion engines, produced heat-trapping particles, and that at high levels, the particles not only held significantly more heat but also turned yellowish brown. The research, highlighted on the cover of a recent issue of Physical Chemistry Chemical Physics, provides new insights that could improve atmospheric and climate models.

Reference: Lin, P., J. Liu, J. E. Shilling, S. M. Kathmann, J. Laskin, and A. Laskin. 2015. “Molecular Characterization of Brown Carbon (BrC) Chromophores in Secondary Organic Aerosol Generated from Photo-Oxidation of Toluene,” Physical Chemistry Chemical Physics 17, 23312–25. DOI: 10.1039/c5cp02563j. (Reference link)

Further information

Contact: Paul E. Bayer, SC-23.1, (301) 903-5324
Topic Areas:

  • Research Area: Earth and Environmental Systems Modeling
  • Research Area: Atmospheric System Research
  • Research Area: DOE Environmental Molecular Sciences Laboratory (EMSL)

Division: SC-33.1 Earth 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

Mar 23, 2021
Molecular Connections from Plants to Fungi to Ants
Lipids transfer energy and serve as an inter-kingdom communication tool in leaf-cutter ants&rsqu [more...]

Mar 19, 2021
Microbes Use Ancient Metabolism to Cycle Phosphorus
Microbial cycling of phosphorus through reduction-oxidation reactions is older and more widespre [more...]

Feb 22, 2021
Warming Soil Means Stronger Microbe Networks
Soil warming leads to more complex, larger, and more connected networks of microbes in those soi [more...]

Jan 27, 2021
Labeling the Thale Cress Metabolites
New data pipeline identifies metabolites following heavy isotope labeling.

Analysis [more...]

Aug 31, 2020
Novel Bacterial Clade Reveals Origin of Form I Rubisco
Objectives

  • All plant biomass is sourced from the carbon-fixing enzyme Rub [more...]

List all highlights (possible long download time)