Trees help to form atmospheric particles

trees_sun UBoC scientists contributed to a new study, published in the journal Science, indicating that molecules emitted by trees are helping to form particles in the atmosphere.

The distribution of particles in the atmosphere controls various properties of clouds and the Earth’s climate. Therefore it’s vitally important to understand the processes by which these particles form, and how this could change in the future.

For the new study, scientists from the CLOUD (Cosmics Leaving OUtdoor Droplets) project conducted experiments in the CERN laboratory near Geneva. The chamber used by the CLOUD scientists is specially designed to be very clean; this is important because otherwise it is impossible to tell exactly which molecules are forming the particles.

The experiments indicated that gases emitted by trees react to give molecules that play a crucial role in the formation of new particles; UBoC scientists used computer simulations of the global atmosphere to test these findings. They found that including the new results in the model helped to predict the number of particles in the atmosphere, and how this changes during the course of the year.

Read the full study here.

Cat Scott – May 2014