A stunning new map from NASA plots the millions of unseen particles swirling throughout the skies, showing everything from dust and sea salts to smoke from wildfires raging in the US and Canada. The map combines data from satellites and sensors on the ground, helping to reveal the exact location and intensity of different phenomena around the world.
Aerosols are both liquid and solid particles suspended in the atmosphere, and can affect temperatures down at the surface. ‘Depending upon their size, type, and location, aerosols can either cool the surface, or warm it,’ NASA explains. ‘They can help clouds to form, or they can inhibit cloud formation. And if inhaled, some aerosols can be harmful to people’s health.’
The new map focuses on aerosols spotted on August 23, showing several different hotspots worldwide linked to different processes. Aerosol levels fluctuate throughout the year in different regions due to different environmental processes. Black carbon, associated with fires, can be seen in high amounts over the US West Coast and Canada, and in sub-Saharan Africa. In northern Africa, on the other hand, dust is the key contributor to aerosol concentrations, as with parts of Asia and the Middle East. Typhoon activity on the other hand, gave rise to higher atmospheric sea salt off Japan and South Korea.
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