Institute for Atmospheric and Climate Science

Atmospheric Aerosols

Thomas Peter, Ulrich Krieger, Claudia Marcolli, Uwe Weers, Beni Zobrist

Atmospheric aerosol particles are solid or liquid particles suspended in air. Processes that control formation, transformation and the removal of atmospheric aerosols is of great interest in atmospheric science. The reason is that these particles, which are often smaller than 1 micrometer in diameter, play an important part in Earth's radiation budget through the scattering of sunlight and through the interaction with clouds. Human activities, such as burning of fossil fuels and land use, change the properties of the aerosol and may therefore influence the climate. This can be either directly through an increase in aerosols or indirectly through the way the anthropogenic aerosols change the way clouds form. Also, heterogeneous reactions on the aerosol particle surfaces influences the gas phase composition and chemistry of the atmosphere. And these particles are responsible for adverse health effects through inhalation.

To assess the role of aerosols in our environment and the influence by anthropogenic emissions requires an understanding of the life cycle and transport patterns for aerosol particles, their compositional evolution as well as a detailed knowledge of how cloud formation mechanisms depend on the properties of the pre-existing aerosols.


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