Atmospheric Chemistry and Climate by S.K Satheesh

Junior (College 3rd year) ・Astronomy ・MLA ・1 Sources

Atmospheric Chemistry

Atmospheric chemistry is a branch of atmospheric science whose primary focus is the composition of the atmosphere of the Earth and other planets. The atmosphere comprises of gasses and solid and liquid matter of microscopic particles cumulatively known as atmospheric aerosols.

Chemical Composition of Aerosols

Each aerosol particle is made up of distinct chemical components resulting from the combination of aerosols from different anthropogenic and natural sources. Their chemical composition determines their complex refractive index. Aerosols generally comprise of sulfates, nitrates, mineral dust, sea salt, carbonaceous components such as black carbon (BC) and organic carbon (OC). Aerosols impact solar radiation whose effects can generally be classified as direct and indirect impact.

Direct Impact of Aerosols

A direct impact occurs when aerosols scatter and absorb solar radiation resulting in the production of climate forcing through altering the planetary albedo. Green warming results when there is re-radiation of long-wave terrestrial radiation. High concentration of aerosols increases the number of cloud droplets ultimately increasing clouds albedo which determines the global energy balance responsible for inhibiting precipitation. Research documents that BC aerosols are responsible for floods experienced in China and India. By blocking the sun, they also result in lower crop yields. These observations are, however, not been validated. Other studies also reveal that an increase in levels of the aerosol results in global warming thus accelerating the melting rate of glaciers as well as ocean acidification caused by CO2 and other gasses.

Aerosol Composition in India

The data on India aerosol composition are not exhaustive to come up with an aerosol model for India. However, what has been established by Ram and Sarin is that the ratio of OC/BC for wood smoke is higher than 1.0, while it is lower than 1.0 for diesel exhaust. From the result, it was evident there is a dominant contribution from burning biomass. As a quick solution to climate change, black carbon aerosols are mitigated. However, of importance to note is that given BC and OC are generated from the similar source, the strategies of combating BC will result in the reduction of OC. The reduction of BC will lead to a reduction of BC-induced atmospheric warming while at the same time contributes significantly to surface warming. As such, in areas perceived to have an abundance of OC, mitigating warming should not rely on reducing BC as it may not be an appropriate option.

Works Cited

Satheesh, S. K. "Atmospheric chemistry and climate." Current Science 102.3 (2012): 426-439.

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