Global climate is in part affected by airborne particles known as dust

Atmospheric aerosols from human activity influence climate. Uncertainties in the understanding of their effects limit our knowledge about climate change.
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Nature and Context

Global climate is in part affected by airborne particles known as dust aerosols, which are abundant in dry deserted areas such as the northwestern region of Africa. Researchers have found that dust aerosols can travel long distances, even across continents, to participate in the life cycle of other ecosystems. However, in spite of dust aerosols being good for nature, elevated concentrations and prolonged exposure to dust aerosols may deteriorate the quality of life for human beings.

Symptoms and Causes

All atmospheric aerosols scatter incoming solar radiation, and a few aerosol types can also absorb solar radiation. BC is the most important of the latter, but mineral dust and some OC components are also sunlight absorbers. Aerosols that mainly scatter solar radiation have a cooling effect, by enhancing the total reflected solar radiation from the Earth. Strongly absorbing aerosols have a warming effect. In the atmosphere, there is a mixture of scattering and absorbing aerosols, and their net effect on Earth's energy budget is dependent on surface and cloud characteristics. Scattering aerosols above a dark surface and absorbing aerosols above a bright surface are most efficient.

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