Scientists studying the atmosphere above Barrow, Alaska, have discovered unprecedented levels of molecular chlorine in the air, a new study reports.
Molecular chlorine, from sea salt released by melting sea ice, reacts with sunlight to produce chlorine atoms. These chlorine atoms are highly reactive and can oxidize many constituents of the atmosphere including methane and elemental mercury, as well activate bromine chemistry, which is an even stronger oxidant of elemental mercury. Oxidized mercury is more reactive and can be deposited to the Arctic ecosystem.
Researchers from Georgia Tech, Carnegie Mellon University and the California Institute of Technology are collaborating to study the effects of soot on global warming.
Soot, tiny airborne particles that billow out of diesel trucks and industrial smokestacks, is not only harmful to humans, but may be causing harmful warming effects that could create more severe weather patterns and hotter temperatures worldwide. Other major sources of black carbon soot include use of biofuels for cooking and heating in developing countries and forest fires.