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Global Climate Change DigestArchives of the
Global Climate Change Digest

A Guide to Information on Greenhouse Gases and Ozone Depletion
Published July 1988 through June 1999


Item #d99jun12

“Airborne Minerals and Related Aerosol Particles: Effects on Climate and the Environment,” P. R. Buseck and M. Pósfai, Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA, 96, 3372-3379 (March 1999).

A study of individual airborne particles indicates that sulfate particles are the main cooling agents among aerosols and are often aggregated with soot (which diminishes the cooling effect of the aerosol), having been deposited on the soot particle in the course of chemical reactions. Over the oceans, sea salt is the most common aerosol species; it also provides large surface areas for heterogeneous chemical reactions. A highly heterogeneous mixture of mineral dusts makes up the majority of atmospheric aerosols, but the interaction of these minerals with radiation and their reactivities are largely unknown.

Item #d99jun13

“Long-Range Transport of Mineral Dust in the Global Atmosphere: Impact of African Dust on the Environment of the Southeastern United States,” J. M. Prospero, Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA, 96, 3396-3403 (March 1999).

Terrestrial dust is transported over long distances by the winds for periods of a week or more at a time. The median diameter of the dust particles is <10 mm, and they show signs of weathering. These particles have complex chemical and physical properties that cannot be determined from examining their bulk properties. The dust’s becoming airborne is highly nonlinear and sensitive to climate change. Once airborne, the dust plays a significant role in climate forcing. The health effects of this airborne soil are unknown. Modeling dust sources may be the most daunting task facing climate modelers.

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