Days after satellite images revealed the presence of an aerosol layer over the Asia region, Indian Space Research Organisation and United States’ National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) carried out a joint study, which has confirmed the same.
Apart from this, in a new finding, the study has also found the presence of nitrate. A variety of manmade and natural processes such as waste-burning, vehicle exhaust, dust, volcanic eruptions give birth to aerosol, the sub-micron size particles suspended in air.
Such man-made and natural processes are mostly restricted to the first few kilometres from the surface of atmosphere of the Earth – Upper Troposphere and Lower Stratosphere (UTLS).
ISRO said that the measurements by the joint team has "confirmed the presence of aerosol layer seen in satellite measurements over the Asian region and it also shows a sharp increase of aerosol concentration near 16.5-18.5 km (from Earth's surface)."
According to the Indian space agency, this layer has a distinct size distribution unlike the one seen in background mineral aerosol dust naturally present in the atmosphere.
"This layer contains particles of size less than 0.25 micron and are 90 per cent volatile. It appears the aerosol is formed from precursor pollutant gases which are transported via convection from the ground," Isro said.
In a new finding, the researchers of the space agencies have found the dominant presence of nitrate after the Preliminary chemical analysis of samples collected in this campaign.
The converging air masses over northern part of India during Monsoon is found to be the main forcing for vertical transport of the aerosols and trace gases to the UTLS region along with long-range transport from northern parts of India.
However, a detailed analysis of all the data collected is yet to be carried out.
Aerosols, Radiation and Trace Gases Group (ARTG) of National Atmospheric Research Laboratory, Isro along with a team from NASA have been studying the air quality around India.
Meanwhile, United States’ space agency NASA along with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) has announced a whopping $ 100,000 grand prize for designing a aerosol sensor to monitor Earth’s air quality and space environments.
Registration for Phase 1 of Earth and Space Air Prize competition is open until December 13, 2017 and last date of submission of the design is January 31, 2018.
The name of the three finalists will be declared by the end of March 2018 and they will be awarded USD 50,000 each. The finalists will then be asked to develop a prototypes by September 30, 2018 for testing and final evaluation. The winner of the grand USD 100,000 prize will be announced in October of next year.