Impact of Smoke and Clouds on Regional and Global Climate

Over 60 NUST staff and students from the Faculties of Engineering (FoE), and Natural Resources and Spatial Sciences (FNRSS) attended their first public lecture presented by Dr Robert Wood, Atmospheric Science professor and NASA-ORACLES deputy principal investigator at the University of Washington.  The event took place from 18h00 to 19h30 on Thursday, February 23, in the auditorium of the Mining and Engineering Building.  Dr Wood presented a lecture on how smoke and clouds influence regional and global climate by clarifying the connections between aerosols and clouds.

The aim of the NASA-ORACLES project is to understand the processes that control clouds in the earth’s atmosphere and the roles that clouds play in determining climate variability and change, as well as how tiny particles called ‘aerosols’ interact with the atmosphere.  Aerosols are produced during fires on the earth surface, which then interact with clouds in different ways, by altering atmospheric heating and through microphysical interactions between smoke particles and cloud droplets. Biomass burning fires in southern Africa produce large quantities of smoke that moves westward over the southeastern Atlantic Ocean inducing regional effects on climate.  Anthropogenic aerosols are acting as a greenhouse cooling effect; they scatter more radiation when they interact with clouds.  This may reduce the light reaching the Earth’s by 30%.  Smoke particles reflect sunlight back to space, hence cooling the Earth, and absorb incoming sunlight, that would increase the warming. When aerosols meet clouds, they change the properties of the clouds ingested by them. 


Selma Udjombala

Communication intern

Faculty of Natural Resources and Spatial Sciences

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