Deep in the Amazon, high over the rainforest, clouds sprout out of the thick air, their condensed water vapor billowing to the blue sky beyond. Underneath this, on the ground, but acutely aware of all of it, is Scot Martin. For Martin, the Amazon is his lab. You have the idea you are from an environment representing a natural ecosystem,” Martin says. Martin is not an ecologist, as you may suspect. Hes an environmental chemist at Harvard University that studies cloud creation. The fundamentals of his field are well understood. As hot air rises, it condenses, pressing any water molecules from the combination closer together.
Little particles suspended from the atmospheredust, soot, even sea saltprovide a surface where water vapor may condense. Repeated billion or trillions of times over, this procedure is what generates a cloud. But a lot of details remain elusive, details that Martin expects to discover from the Amazon. Change Is in the Air centuries ago, the origins of cloud condensation nuclei were nearly entirely natural: Dust kicked up from the wind, soot carried off from the smoke of a forest fire, ash emitted from a volcano, sea salt throw away from a crashing wave, and so forth. But since the dawn of the industrial revolution, thats shifted.
Weve been pumping our own particulates to the air as we burn oil, coal, together with other fossil fuels. In fact, there is a lot of particulate matter from the air in heavily developed areas like North America and Europostalmente from pollutantsthat scientists cannot quickly study which particles affect cloud formation and the way. The cleaner atmosphere in rural North America, for instance, has 2, 000 or more particles per cubic centimeter, most are out of pollution. Those numbers soar near towns, where densities may be as high as 10, 000 to 100, 000 particles per cubic centimeter. There’s Too much noise in the air, Martin says.
There are a few places where particulate signs are quieter. One is the oceans, far away out of land. There, research has shown that clouds form differently. Or in other words, clouds on land form differently from the ocean since of pollutants released on land. The studies suggest that this is from us, that we’ve changed clouds over land, Martin says. But we still do not know how, exactly, pollution has shifted the procedure or how clouds once formed above land. Fortunately, theres a different place to study cloudsover the Amazon, where particulate levels stay low. There, the air is so clean that it imitates air from the 1750 s, prior to industrialization.
Tests of the air from the Amazon show that there are 300 particles per cubic centimeter, levels which are more comparable to the ocean than the land. Thats why the Amazon is called the Green Ocean, Martin says, since the clouds above the Amazon look like clouds above the ocean. Its the reason Martin and his team are here from the Amazon, where clouds still gather like they did centuries ago. How Clouds Form – Clouds play an important role in regulating the Earths climate.