NRL Scientists Study Effects of Asian Aerosols on U. S. Atmosphere

5/6/2003 - 32-03r
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Scientists at the Naval Research Laboratory in Monterey, CA recently conducted a field study to investigate the properties and effects of natural and man-made dust and pollution from Asia that are carried by the wind almost half-way around the world to the west coast of the United States.

In the springtime, strong winds over the Takla Makan and Gobi deserts of China and Mongolia generate massive dust storms. This dust can be lofted high into the air and within days carried downwind across China, Korea, and Japan, mixing with other particles and pollution along the way. After a week, if weather conditions are right, the dust plume reaches the west coast of the U.S. and beyond.

These Asian dust events can have a significant effect on the atmosphere on local and regional scales, both in Asia and the United States. They degrade air quality, reduce visibility, reflect and absorb sunlight and infrared energy, and possibly alter weather patterns. They can also have an adverse affect on the satellite measurements of the atmosphere and ocean.

The Asian Dust Above Monterey-2003 (ADAM-2003) project is a ground-, ship- and aircraft-based observational field study designed to directly measure the properties and effects of these Asian aerosols once they reach the west coast of the United States and to test the predictability skill of NRL's global aerosol forecast model. ADAM-2003 took place from April 1 - 30, 2003 and was based in Monterey, on the central California coast. This effort is led by NRL-Monterey, CA, with participation by scientists from NRL-Washington, DC; NRL-Stennis, MS; the Naval Postgraduate School (NPS); NASA-Ames Research Center; Colorado State University; Texas A&M University; and the University of Warsaw, Poland.

A comprehensive set of measurements was made from the ground station at NRL in Monterey, aboard the research vessel Pt. Sur in the Monterey Bay, and in the air above these two sites using the NPS Center for Interdisciplinary Remotely Piloted Aircraft Studies (CIRPAS) Twin Otter research aircraft. Satellite measurements are being used to extend the localized measurements to regional scales.

Lidar image of the atmosphere above Monterey from April 19-20, 2003. Dust is seen as the green layer beteen 1 and 2 km, and between 3 and 3.5 km elevation (1mile = approximately 1.6 km). White layers above 4 km and at the surface are water clouds.

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The U.S. Naval Research Laboratory provides the advanced scientific capabilities required to bolster our country's position of global naval leadership. The Laboratory, with a total complement of approximately 2,500 personnel, is located in southwest Washington, D.C., with other major sites at the Stennis Space Center, Miss., and Monterey, Calif. NRL has served the Navy and the nation for over 90 years and continues to advance research further than you can imagine. For more information, visit the NRL website or join the conversation on Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube.

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