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Atmospheric aerosols

Aerosols are suspensions of fine particles in air and have a significant impact on Earth’s climate, human health, and reduces visibility.

Through their ability to scatter and absorb solar radiation and influence cloud formation, most aerosols have a cooling effect on the climate.

According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) aerosols are considered to contribute the largest source of uncertainty in our understanding of climate changes.

It is possible to investigate aerosol processes in the atmosphere through both field and laboratory studies. To elucidate the chemical composition and their sources analytical techniques are applied.

Previous projects have investigated the chemical composition of aerosol particles collected by students during field studies in northern Greenland and a coniferous forest in Hyytiälä, Finland, as well as by collaborators in e.g. China and the Amazon. Aerosols are sampled on filters, which are extracted and analyzed using LC-MS and GC-MS. Computer models of air parcel trajectories (such as HYSPLIT) can be used to investigate whether long-range transport of air pollution from one location can impact the chemical composition of aerosol particles in another. By employing targeted chemical analysis of biogenic and anthropogenic molecular markers in aerosols, the impact of human and natural sources to aerosol in the atmosphere are investigated.