Oceanic Aerosol Levels Deduced from Measurements of the Electrical Conductivity of the Atmosphere

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  • 1 Atmospheric Physics and Chemistry Laboratory, NOAA, Boulder, Colo. 80302
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Abstract

The electrical conductivity of the atmosphere, monitored at sites remote from sources of anthropogenic aerosols, may be used to provide an index of the level of suspended particulates for the area representative of the sampling site. Conductivity measurements taken at Mauna Loa, Hawaii, and from ocean research vessels, indicate that most of the oceanic regions of the world are maintaining a natural aerosol level unchanged by the activities of mankind. Significant exceptions are the paths of aerosol pollution extending eastward from the United States in the North Atlantic, from Japan in the North Pacific, and southward from Asia in the Northern Indian Ocean. These regions are discussed with respect to the lifetime of the suspended particulates and the influence of large-scale atmospheric circulation. Anthropogenic aerosols are largely produced from the burning of fossil fuels such as coal and oil. The present trend is toward control of these particulate emissions and an inevitable switch to other forms of energy production. It is concluded that the anthropogenic aerosols now detectable in some oceanic regions will begin to decline by the end of the century and that any global climatic changes due to the current increase will be insignificant.

Abstract

The electrical conductivity of the atmosphere, monitored at sites remote from sources of anthropogenic aerosols, may be used to provide an index of the level of suspended particulates for the area representative of the sampling site. Conductivity measurements taken at Mauna Loa, Hawaii, and from ocean research vessels, indicate that most of the oceanic regions of the world are maintaining a natural aerosol level unchanged by the activities of mankind. Significant exceptions are the paths of aerosol pollution extending eastward from the United States in the North Atlantic, from Japan in the North Pacific, and southward from Asia in the Northern Indian Ocean. These regions are discussed with respect to the lifetime of the suspended particulates and the influence of large-scale atmospheric circulation. Anthropogenic aerosols are largely produced from the burning of fossil fuels such as coal and oil. The present trend is toward control of these particulate emissions and an inevitable switch to other forms of energy production. It is concluded that the anthropogenic aerosols now detectable in some oceanic regions will begin to decline by the end of the century and that any global climatic changes due to the current increase will be insignificant.

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