EU project to determine the role of atmospheric fine particles in climate change

An international team of aerosol and cloud scientists from 25 countries is ready to start measuring the fine particles found in our atmosphere from many locations around the world.

Following its first year developing state-of-the-art aerosol measuring equipment, the Aerosol Cloud Climate and Air Quality Interactions (EUCAARI) project is now ready to embark on its quest to
investigate the role that aerosols play in climate change.

Aerosols are tiny solid particles or liquid droplets suspended in the atmosphere. Originating from natural and human sources, their sizes can range from sub-nanometre molecule clusters to
millimetre scale dust particles and cloud droplets. They also have a direct impact on the climate as they either scatter or absorb solar radiation. They also have an indirect impact on the
climate when they act as condensation nuclei and cause clouds to form.

By studying the aerosols in the atmosphere, the researchers hope to gain a better understanding of these processes and increase knowledge of the impact of these fine particles on climate and
air quality.

During its first year, the EU-wide research project has developed an extremely sensitive measuring device for aerosols, allowing for reliable measurements of particles less than 3 nanometres
across. This technology will play a crucial role in solving the physical and chemical questions of aerosol generation and formation. The project will kick start next spring, collecting data on
European air through both ground-based and airborne measurements simultaneously.

The project team has also established a global network of measuring stations in Brazil, South Africa, China and India. These will cover measurement areas that are geographically important for
the monitoring of air pollution. For example, the Brazilian station is located in the rainforest region, and the South African station in the savannah area. The stations will start operating
from the beginning of 2008.

The results of the four-year EUCAARI project launched in January 2007 will feed into global climate and policy ending.

The total budget of EUCAARI, currently the largest aerosol project in Europe, is ?15 million, ?10 million of which is covered by the European Union under its Sixth Framework Programme (FP6).

One of the partners in the project, the Finnish Meteorological Institute in Helsinki, will host the first annual meeting of the project from 19 to 22 November.

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