National Oceanic and
Atmospheric Administration
United States Department of Commerce

New PMEL Science at Work Video: How tiny particles affect air quality and climate

April 06, 2020

Aerosols are fine particles that are produced by waves breaking at the ocean surface (sea spray), phytoplankton (sulfate aerosol), sandstorms (dust), and combustion (burning of fossil fuels and wildfires). These microscopic particles can impact climate directly by absorbing or scattering incoming solar radiation and indirectly by affecting cloud properties such as extent, lifetime, and reflectivity. Aerosols also affect air quality by reducing visibility and, when inhaled, can affect our health.

The Atmospheric Chemistry Group at NOAA’s Pacific Marine Environmental Lab has been studying the effects of aerosols on climate and air quality by participating in shipboard national and international research field campaigns and long-term aerosol monitoring for over thirty years. Their work has employed the use of ships, unmanned aerial systems (UAS), and ground stations. 

The group has studied a broad range of aerosol types ranging from remote marine aerosols in every ocean basin, black carbon (soot) in the Arctic, particulate matter in the oil and gas fields of Utah’s Uintah Basin to dust storms over Asia.

Check out our video on the NOAA YouTube Channel to learn more about NOAA PMEL’s research on aerosols:

PMEL Project: