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UH: Pan-European research effort improves the understanding of the impacts of aerosols and trace gases on climate and air quality

Author: minna.merilainen 29.06.2011 12:31


University of Helsinki, Finland
Communication/ Kumpula Science Campus
29.6.2011

Pan-European research effort improves the understanding of the impacts of
aerosols and trace gases on climate and air quality

Atmospheric aerosol particles (otherwise known as Particulate Matter) have
been masking the true rate of greenhouse gas induced global warming during
the industrial period. New investigations show that the aerosol cooling
effect will be strongly reduced by 2030, as air pollution abatements are
implemented worldwide and the presently available advanced control
technologies are utilized. These actions would increase the global mean
temperature by ca. 1 degree Celsius. This is one of the main research
outcomes of the recently concluded EU EUCAARI (European Integrated project
on Aerosol Cloud Climate and Air Quality Interaction) project.

The positive impacts of aerosols are partially off-setting global warming,
but at the same time aerosol particles have a negative effect on public
health, causing thousands on premature deaths in Europe annually.
Identification of efficient strategies for air pollution control in Europe
was another key outcome of EUCAARI. It was found that the reduction in
ammonia emissions is one of the most effective ways to reduce aerosol mass
concentrations and thus improve air quality in Europe. Reduction in nitric
oxides is also effective, but might lead to higher ozone levels, thereby
leading to another negative impact on air quality. Reduction in sulphur
dioxide emissions will reduce particulate air pollution especially in the
Eastern Mediterranean area. Reduction of organic aerosol concentrations is
a lot more challenging and will require reductions of gas and aerosol
emissions from transportation and biomass burning. Furthermore, it is now
shown that a large fraction of organic aerosols in Europe is of modern
origin (as opposed to fossil fuel origins), for which the main sources are
biogenic secondary organic aerosol (boreal forests), biomass burning and
primary biogenic aerosol particles. All these emission sources are expected
to respond to climate change, although the exact magnitude and nature of
these responses remains uncertain.

The EUCAARI project, coordinated by Professor Markku Kulmala from
University of Helsinki, Finland, has been the most extensive aerosol
research project in Europe so far. The total budget of the project was 15
million Euros, of which 10 million Euros was provided by the European
Commission FP6 Programme. In all, 48 research institutes from 24 countries
participated in this project, carried out in 2007-2010.The project has led
to significantly more information on the whole physical background related
to aerosol formation and impacts at all scales; from nanoscale to global,
from milliseconds to centuries. The quantification of the effect of
aerosols on the radiative balance (cooling or heating) of the planet has
been one of the most urgent tasks to underpin more informed projections of
future climate change.

The project performed extensive studies from ground-based, aircraft and
satellite platforms not only in Europe, but also in China, South-Africa,
Brazil and India. These studies improved the theoretical understanding of
the aerosol life-cycle, enabling us to make major improvements in climate
and air pollution models and present new air pollution scenarios over
Europe. The project outcome has been targeted to reinforce European
political decision-making to develop new strategies and implementation
plans for global air quality monitoring and to take Europe a leading role
in developing and applying environmental technologies.

For more information: Academy Professor Markku Kulmala, University of
Helsinki.fi, tel. + 358 40 596 2311

See also

EUCAARI  project and photographs
http://www.atm.helsinki.fi/eucaari/

EUCAARI main results, overview paper
http://www.atmos-chem-phys-discuss.net/11/17941/2011/acpd-11-17941-2011.pdf


Regards,
Minna Meriläinen-Tenhu, Press Officer, tel. + 358 9 191 51042



Minna Meriläinen-Tenhu
Tiedottaja / Informatör / Press Officer

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