Two NWO-GO grants for aerosol research with PACE satellite

22 februari 2024 News

SRON scientists Otto Hasekamp and Bastiaan van Diedenhoven have both received an NWO-GO grant for research on aerosols in the Earth’s atmosphere. They will use data from NASA’s PACE climate satellite, that was launched on February 8th including the Dutch aerosol instrument SPEXone onboard.

Aerosols—also called particulate matter—are small dust particles in the atmosphere with a net cooling effect on the climate by reflecting sunlight (direct effect) and influencing the formation of clouds (indirect effect). However it is uncertain how strong this cooling effect is, making it difficult to accurately predict global warming. The project of Otto Hasekamp will combine the PACE satellite measurements of aerosols and clouds with a climate model. In this way, that model will be improved with more accurate estimates on aerosol emission and properties and on the interaction between aerosols and clouds. This provides a better overview of the cooling effect caused by various sources of particulate matter.

Bastiaan van Diedenhoven focuses on the absorption of water by aerosols. The impact of particulate matter on the climate and public health depends on how effectively it absorbs water, which in turn depends on its chemical composition. It is therefore important that air quality and climate models properly simulate water absorption by particulate matter. However, no global measurements are available to test and calibrate the models in this regard. Van Diedenhoven’s NWO-GO project fills this data gap by extracting information about water uptake by aerosols from new satellite measurements, including from PACE, and then using it for model testing and calibration.

In both projects, the NWO-GO grant finances a PhD candidate for a period of four years.

NASA’s PACE climate satellite was launched on February 8th 2024 with onboard the Dutch aerosol instrument SPEXone. Credit: NASA

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