Tropospheric Aerosols

P R Buseck, S. E. Schwartz

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

15 Scopus citations


It is widely believed that “On a clear day you can see forever,” as proclaimed in the 1965 Broadway musical of the same name. While an admittedly beautiful thought, we all know that this concept is only figurative. Aside from Earth’s curvature and Rayleigh scattering by air molecules, aerosols—colloidal suspensions of solid or liquid particles in a gas—limit our vision. Even on the clearest day, there are billions of aerosol particles per cubic meter of air. Atmospheric aerosols are commonly referred to as smoke, dust, haze, and smog, terms that are loosely reflective of their origin and composition. Aerosol particles have arisen naturally for eons from sea spray, volcanic emissions, wind entrainment of mineral dust, wildfires, and gas-to-particle conversion of hydrocarbons from plants and dimethylsulfide from the oceans. However, over the industrial period, the natural background aerosol has been greatly augmented by anthropogenic contributions, i.e., those produced by human activities. One manifestation of this impact is reduced visibility (Figure 1). Thus, perhaps more than in other realms of geochemistry, when considering the composition of the troposphere one must consider the effects of these activities. The atmosphere has become a reservoir for vast quantities of anthropogenic emissions that exert important perturbations on it and on the planetary ecosystem in general. Consequently, much recent research focuses on the effects of human activities on the atmosphere and, through them, on the environment and Earth’s climate. For these reasons consideration of the geochemistry of the atmosphere, and of atmospheric aerosols in particular,....

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationThe Atmosphere
PublisherElsevier Inc.
Number of pages52
ISBN (Electronic)9780080548074
ISBN (Print)9780080437514
StatePublished - Dec 4 2003

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Earth and Planetary Sciences


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