From: Georgia Institute of Technology
Published May 22, 2017 02:08 PM

Smoke from Wildfires Can Have Lasting Climate Impact

The wildfire that has raged across more than 150,000 acres of the Okefenokee Swamp in Georgia and Florida has sent smoke billowing into the sky as far as the eye can see. Now, new research published by the Georgia Institute of Technology shows how that smoke could impact the atmosphere and climate much more than previously thought.

Researchers have found that carbon particles released into the air from burning trees and other organic matter are much more likely than previously thought to travel to the upper levels of the atmosphere, where they can interfere with rays from the sun – sometimes cooling the air and at other times warming it.

“Most of the brown carbon released into the air stays in the lower atmosphere, but a fraction of it does get up into the upper atmosphere, where it has a disproportionately large effect on the planetary radiation balance – much stronger than if it was all at the surface,” said Rodney Weber, a professor in Georgia Tech’s School of Earth & Atmospheric Sciences.

The study, which was published May 22 in the journal Nature Geoscience, was sponsored by the NASA Radiation Sciences Program and the NASA Tropospheric Composition Program.

Continue reading at Georgia Institute of Technology

Image: Smoke rises from the wildfire burning across 150,000 acres of the Okefenokee Swamp in Georgia and Florida. (Credit: Jim Pixley / USFWS)

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