Welcome to the research group of Dr. Jeff Pierce at Colorado State University in Ft. Collins, Colorado, USA and Dalhousie University in Halifax, NS, Canada. Our research focuses on atmospheric particles and gases and their interactions with human health, clouds and climate.
Specific areas of interest include:
(1) Aerosols and climate: Changes in atmospheric aerosols (airborne particles) due to human-generated pollution affects the earth's climate by interacting with the sun and earth's radiation and by modifying clouds. The extent to which this increased aerosol concentration has affected climate is generally regarded to be one of the most uncertain gaps in our understanding of recent climate change. (2) Near-source aerosol physics: The size and number of atmospheric particles may be greatly influenced by processes near their sources, such as in power plant plumes; however, these processes are currently ignored or are only crudely accounted for in regional and global atmospheric models. (3) New-particle formation and growth: A large portion of the number of atmospheric particles were formed from gases in the atmosphere (rather than being emitted from a source). The rate at which these particle form and grow is very uncertain, yet must be better understood in order to reduce uncertainties in the climate effects of aerosols. (4) Particles and health: Atmospheric particles in the atmosphere lead to on the order of 3 million premature deaths ever year. Therefore, we must understand how best to reduce human exposure to particles.
Credit Jeff Schmaltz, MODIS Rapid Response Team, NASA/GSFC
This is a true-color photo from the MODIS instrument on NASA's Terra satellite of the Pacific Ocean off of the coast of North America. The white streaks in the thinner cloud portions are where aerosols from ship emissions have changed the cloud properties, making them brighter. These interactions have a large impact on climate!
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