Earth  ID: 11885

The Particle Puzzle

The two variables that still create the most uncertainty about how future climate change will unfold are clouds and tiny airborne particles called aerosols. Some clouds reflect the sun’s rays while others trap outgoing heat that would otherwise be emitted to space. Likewise, some aerosols scatter light and cause a cooling effect while others absorb light and cause a heating effect. Aerosols can also seed clouds, further complicating the picture. For more than a decade, scientists have used NASA's Terra and Aqua satellites to create a continuous, long-term record of clouds and aerosols in Earth’s atmosphere. The observations will ultimately help scientists better understand their mysterious ways. Explore the images for satellite views of different types of airborne particles seen across the globe.

Story Credits

Lead Writer:
Ellen T. Gray (ADNET)

Please give credit for this item to:
NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center
Cover image courtesy of NASA/JSC/Earth Science and Remote Sensing Unit
Satellite images courtesy of NASA/GSFC/MODIS Rapid Response Team

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