Simulation of Aerosols During the 2017 North Atlantic Hurricane Season

  • Released Monday, November 13, 2017

Suspended in the atmosphere, sea salt, smoke, and dust are three common types of aerosols—tiny, solid and liquid particles present throughout the atmosphere. Because they have different optical and size properties, aerosols can be used as tracers to study how the Earth’s atmosphere moves.

This visualization follows sea salt, smoke, and dust through the atmosphere from July 31 to November 1, 2017 (during the 2017 North Atlantic Hurricane Season), to reveal how these particles are transported across the globe. The first thing that is noticeable is how far the particles can travel in only a few days. Hurricanes forming off the coast of Africa pick up sea salt and dust and travel across the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico, notably, Harvey, Irma, and Maria. Smoke from fires in the Pacific Northwest gets caught in a weather pattern and pulled all the way across the United States and over to Europe. Dust from the Sahara is blown into the Gulf of Mexico.

Computer simulations such as this one, from NASA’s Goddard Earth Observing System (GEOS) model, allow scientists to see how different processes fit together and evolve as a system. By using mathematical models to represent nature, we can separate the system into component parts and better understand the underlying physics of each.


Please give credit for this item to:
NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center

Release date

This page was originally published on Monday, November 13, 2017.
This page was last updated on Wednesday, November 15, 2023 at 12:39 AM EST.