The Secular Increase of the World-Wide Fine Particle Pollution

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  • 1 The American University, Washington, D.C.
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Abstract

The increase in the world-wide fine Particle pollution of the atmosphere between 1914 and 1962 is inferred from measurements of the electrical conductivity of the atmosphere over the surface of the North Atlantic. Systematic instrumental errors have been discovered in some of the early measurements of conductivity made on the research ship Carnegie which have long been considered as “standard.” Measurements for the seventh cruise of the Carnegie should be multiplied by 1.39 to correct for errors introduced by eddy diffusion.

Notable improvements in the design of the electrical conductivity apparatus and an electric field meter permit the continuous collection and recording of data at sea even under adverse conditions such as heavy fog and light rain. More than 12 days of continuous new measurements in all kinds of weather during May–June 1962 are summarized.

A comparison of the new measurements with the corrected values of the early Carnegie observations suggests that the electrical conductivity of the atmosphere over the North Atlantic has decreased by about 5 per cent between 1929 and 1962. This implies a measurable and parallel increase in the average fine particle pollution of the atmosphere that is doubtless world-wide and represents an increasing hazard to the health of all terrestrial life.

Our measurements fail to confirm G.R. Wait's (1946) forecast of a very great and alarming increase in world-wide air pollution.

Abstract

The increase in the world-wide fine Particle pollution of the atmosphere between 1914 and 1962 is inferred from measurements of the electrical conductivity of the atmosphere over the surface of the North Atlantic. Systematic instrumental errors have been discovered in some of the early measurements of conductivity made on the research ship Carnegie which have long been considered as “standard.” Measurements for the seventh cruise of the Carnegie should be multiplied by 1.39 to correct for errors introduced by eddy diffusion.

Notable improvements in the design of the electrical conductivity apparatus and an electric field meter permit the continuous collection and recording of data at sea even under adverse conditions such as heavy fog and light rain. More than 12 days of continuous new measurements in all kinds of weather during May–June 1962 are summarized.

A comparison of the new measurements with the corrected values of the early Carnegie observations suggests that the electrical conductivity of the atmosphere over the North Atlantic has decreased by about 5 per cent between 1929 and 1962. This implies a measurable and parallel increase in the average fine particle pollution of the atmosphere that is doubtless world-wide and represents an increasing hazard to the health of all terrestrial life.

Our measurements fail to confirm G.R. Wait's (1946) forecast of a very great and alarming increase in world-wide air pollution.

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