Atmospheric Aerosols

Recently, NASA Goddard released a visualization of aerosols in the Atlantic region. The simulation uses real data from satellite imagery taken between August and October 2017 to seed a simulation of atmospheric physics. The color scales in the visualization show concentrations of three major aerosol particles: smoke (gray), sea salt (blue), and dust (brown). One of the interesting outcomes of the simulation is a visualization of the fall Atlantic hurricane season. The high winds from hurricanes help pick up sea salt from the ocean surface and throw it high in the atmosphere, making the hurricanes visible here. Fires in the western United States provide most of the smoke aerosols, whereas dust comes mostly from the Sahara. Tiny aerosol particles serve as a major nucleation source for water droplets, affecting both cloud formation and rainfall. With simulations like these, scientists hope to better understand how aerosols move in the atmosphere and how they affect our weather. (Image credit: NASA Goddard Research Center, source; submitted by Paul vdB)

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