Aerosols are small, stable particles that drift aloft in Earth’s environment. These minuscule motes could also be any of plenty of numerous substances, comparable to mud, air pollution, and wildfire smoke. By absorbing or scattering daylight, aerosols affect Earth’s local weather. In addition they have an effect on air high quality and human health.
Correct observations of aerosols are mandatory to review their influence. As demonstrated by Ahn et al., the Earth Polychromatic Imaging Camera (EPIC) sensor on board the Deep Space Climate Observatory (DSCOVR) satellite tv for pc supplies new alternatives for monitoring these particles.
Launched in 2015, DSCOVR’s orbit retains it suspended between Earth and the Solar, so EPIC can seize photographs of Earth in steady daylight—each within the visible-light vary and at ultraviolet (UV) and near-infrared wavelengths. The EPIC near-UV aerosol algorithm (EPICAERUV) can then glean extra particular details about aerosol properties from the photographs.
Like different satellite-borne aerosol sensors, EPIC permits statement of aerosols in geographic areas which can be troublesome to entry with ground- or aircraft-based sensors. Nonetheless, not like different satellite tv for pc sensors that may take measurements solely as soon as per day, EPIC’s distinctive orbit permits it to gather aerosol knowledge for your complete sunlit facet of Earth as much as 20 occasions per day.
To display EPIC’s capabilities, the researchers used EPICAERUV to judge varied properties of the aerosols it noticed, together with traits referred to as optical depth, single-scattering albedo, above-cloud aerosol optical depth, and ultraviolet aerosol index. These properties are key for monitoring aerosols and their influence. The evaluation confirmed that EPIC’s observations of those properties in contrast favorably with these from ground- and aircraft-based sensors.
The analysis group additionally used EPIC to judge the traits of smoke plumes produced by current wildfires in North America, together with intensive fires in British Columbia in 2017, California’s 2018 Mendocino Complicated Fireplace, and quite a few North American fires in 2020. EPIC contributed to the observational proof of smoke self-lofting through the tropopause by photo voltaic absorption–pushed diabatic heating in 2017. EPIC observations efficiently captured these big aerosol plumes, and the derived plume traits aligned precisely with ground-based measurements.
This analysis means that regardless of coarse spatial decision and probably massive errors underneath sure viewing situations, EPIC can function a useful gizmo for aerosol monitoring. Future efforts will intention to enhance the EPICAERUV algorithm to spice up accuracy. (Journal of Geophysical Analysis: Atmospheres, https://doi.org/10.1029/2020JD033651, 2021)
—Sarah Stanley, Science Author
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