Wonderful Engineering

Map Released By NASA Shows Aerosol Clouds Spread All Over The World

Nine months ago, NASA reported that the gaping hole in the Earth’s protective ozone layer had shrunk to the smallest it has been since 1988. However, the latest news from them shows that we are still breathing in toxic air as our atmosphere is filled with dangerous particles and droplets of aerosols. The new aerosol map released by NASA’s Earth Observatory clearly shows that no part of the Earth is safe from the specs. The illustration reveals that the substance has covered all our cities, oceans, deserts, mountains and ice caps as well.

The map is created using a simulation model called Goddard Earth Observing System Forward Processing (GEOS FP). The tool combined aerosol data from satellites like Terra, Aqua, Aura, and Suomi NPP with information collected by sensors on the ground and created the visualizations of aerosol outputs on the earth on 23rd August 2018. The legend of the map goes like this; sea salt aerosols are indicated in blue, black carbon particles are shown in red, and pure dust is shown in purple.

Sea salt aerosol particles are one of the most widely distributed natural aerosols, and consists of sea spray formed from oceanic ejections. The black carbon particles are responsible for human morbidity and are dangerous aerosols. They are composed of pure carbon which is formed through the incomplete combustion of both fossil fuels and biomass. NASA also compared the data obtained at night light with the one received at daylight of the Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS) on Suomi NPP. The result is a visual representation of complex mathematical equations which brings to life the real-world physical processes and the problems which are faced by our Earth at the moment.

The events which were the source of devastating issues on the ground on 23rd August were also clearly shown on the map. The Category 4 cyclone Hurricane Lane on the Hawaiian lands can be seen from the map’s swirls, and the beginning of the twin tropical cyclones Soulik and Cimaron’s path towards South Korea and Japan is also visible. Other phenomena shown are not very serious like the seasonal smoke plumes over central Africa which is caused by farmers crop maintenance fires and the after-effects of wildfires which is still present in the form of smoke clouds over North America. These activities formed a beautiful and colorful illustration, however, the map is also giving a clear warning about our planet’s atmosphere. The alarming environmental events, including cyclones, wildfires, rising sea levels and overall extreme heat is on the rise due to the increasing global warming. In 2018, nearly 118 all-time heat records were broken all over the world. The conditions are getting worse with every passing day, and no one can say if we will be able to fix everything before the earth becomes inhabitable for us.