Aerosols from Overseas Rival Domestic Emissions over North America

Science  03 Aug 2012:
Vol. 337, Issue 6094, pp. 566-569
DOI: 10.1126/science.1217576

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Many types of aerosols have lifetimes long enough for their transcontinental transport, making them potentially important contributors to air quality and climate change in remote locations. We estimate that the mass of aerosols arriving at North American shores from overseas is comparable with the total mass of particulates emitted domestically. Curbing domestic emissions of particulates and precursor gases, therefore, is not sufficient to mitigate aerosol impacts in North America. The imported contribution is dominated by dust leaving Asia, not by combustion-generated particles. Thus, even a reduction of industrial emissions of the emerging economies of Asia could be overwhelmed by an increase of dust emissions due to changes in meteorological conditions and potential desertification.

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