Climate studies to benefit from 12 years of satellite aerosol data

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Paris, November 11 (ANI): The European Space Agency's (ESA's) GlobAerosol project has produced a global aerosol dataset going back to 1995, which would probably benefit climate studies.

The dataset was produced by the Advanced Along Track Scanning Radiometer and the Medium Resolution Imaging Spectrometer on Envisat and the Spinning Enhanced Visible and InfraRed Imager (SEVIRI) instrument on the Meteosat Second Generation, using data from the Along Track Scanning Radiometer-2 on the ERS-2 satellite.

Some aerosols occur naturally, originating from sea-spray, wind-blown dust, volcanic eruptions and biochemical emissions from oceans and forests, while others are produced through emissions from industrial pollution, fossil-fuel burning, man-made forest fires and agriculture.

They are important because they strongly affect Earth's energy balance in two ways: they scatter and absorb sunlight and infrared emission from Earth's surface, and act as condensation nuclei for the formation of cloud droplets.

According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), these effects tend to cool the planet to almost the same degree as carbon dioxide emissions warm it.

These estimates are uncertain, however, so more data are needed.

To investigate the usefulness of the dataset, pilot studies were carried out by six atmospheric modelling groups.

Results of the pilot studies were presented during ESA's Atmospheric Science Conference held in Barcelona, Spain, in September.

According to Maria Grazia Frontoso, working on the development of the GLOMAP aerosol model at the University of Leeds in the UK, "GlobAerosol seems to be a very useful tool to address uncertainties in global models."

Arjo Segers from TNO in the Netherlands compared GlobAerosol data with model predictions of desert dust and forest fires over the Iberian peninsular.

"The results of this study suggest that the GlobAerosol SEVIRI dataset is especially useful for investigating aerosol levels over water," he said.

Still, more work is needed to address the problems highlighted in the intercomparison study of the models, and to improve the overall accuracy of the satellite aerosol data. (ANI)

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