Special Issue for the 9th International Conference on Carbonaceous Particles in the Atmosphere Page: 3 of 8
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The uncertainty in our ability to accurately quantify the air pollution-induced perturbation
of Earth's radiation balance is mostly due to our lack of understanding of the processes
responsible for aerosol radiative forcing (Solomon et al., 2007). Aerosols are short-lived
in the atmosphere, surviving from hours to weeks before they are removed by wet or dry
deposition, and thus can have significant temporal and regional variation. Regionally, the
aerosol radiative forcing can be much larger than green-house gases, and can redistribute
enough energy in the atmosphere to impact the hydrological cycle (Ramanathan and
Carmichael, 2008; Russell et al., 1997). Recent studies have improved source
identification and apportionment (Bond et al., 2004; Novakov et al., 2005; Streets et al.,
2003) but more work is required to refine these estimates. Recent work has identified that
carbonaceous particles absorb more sunlight than previously thought (Bond and
Bergstrom, 2006; Schnaiter et al., 2005). Further research is required to better quantify
the amount of light absorbed by carbonaceous particles in the visible and ultra-violet
spectrum (Kirchstetter et al., 2004). A more thorough knowledge of the chemical
composition of carbonaceous particles is important. The composition of particles affects
their interaction with solar radiation and the hydrological cycle, cloud scavenging and
aqueous chemistry, and the ability of carbonaceous particles to form CCN [Facchini,
2003, Fuzzi, et al., 2006; Ghan and Schwartz (2007)]. At present only about 10%-20% of
the organic mass of carbonaceous aerosol can be identified (Puxbaum et al., 2000; Rogge
et al., 1993) although a range of new oxigenated organic compounds will increase the
identified OC on the molecular level substantially (e.g. anhydrosugars, tetrols, and further
new bio-aerosol markers) (Bauer et al., 2008; Claeys et al., 2007; Puxbaum et al., 2007;
Surratt et al., 2006). The evolution of carbonaceous particles, particularly EC, changes
the amount of light they scatter and absorb with consequences for climate (Hansen and
Sato, 2001; Jacobson, 2001; Menon, 2004).
Carbonaceous particle composition includes heavy metals and polycyclic aromatic
hydrocarbons (PAH), which can be toxic, and the importance of ultrafine particles which
can be inhaled deep into lungs is now being recognized. Epidemiological studies have
linked pulmonary disease and mortality to the inhalation of particulate matter (Lighty et
al., 2000; Pope and Dockery, 2006). The specific mechanisms responsible for this
linkage are not fully understood.
Future advances in our knowledge of carbonaceous particles, their distribution, and
transformation processes will require a more coordinated use of the tools at hand. These
tools include laboratory, field, and satellite observations, as well as sophisticated models
that more accurately describe the processes involved. Recent call for such integrated
approaches (cf. (Charlson, 2001; Diner, 2004; Trenbreth et al., 2002) have not been fully
embraced by the research community. More integrated studies will be required to
advance our understanding of the mechanisms by which carbonaceous particles impact
our climate and health.
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Strawa, A.W.; Kirchstetter, T.W. & Puxbaum, H. Special Issue for the 9th International Conference on Carbonaceous Particles in the Atmosphere, article, December 11, 2009; Berkeley, California. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc847095/m1/3/: accessed October 18, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.