Skip to Main Content U.S. Department of Energy
Atmospheric Sciences and Global Change
  • volcano eruption

    Volcanic Ash Proves Inefficient Cloud Ice Maker

    A 2010 Icelandic volcano's ash plume caused havoc for vacationers across Europe. But did it also dramatically change clouds? Researchers at PNNL found that volcanic ash is not as efficient as common dust in birthing cloud ice particles. Using a novel laboratory testing chamber they formed cloud ice, a process called ice nucleation, around particles of dust and volcanic ash. Their results revealed the importance of optimal particle structure to efficiently attract super cold water vapor to nucleate ice.

  • Wang Appointed Editor of Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics

    Congratulations to Dr. Hailong Wang, atmospheric scientist at PNNL, who was appointed to the editorial board of Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics. He will apply his expertise in atmospheric aerosols, cloud physics and dynamics, aerosol-cloud-precipitation interactions and climate change to review manuscripts submitted to the journal.

  • tropical clouds and sunlight

    Clouds' Role in Sunlight Stopping

    Clouds are energy traffic cops, controlling how much sunlight reaches Earth. PNNL researchers found that the sunlight stopping power of each type of typical tropical cloud and how frequently they occur must be accurately simulated in climate models. Otherwise, understanding of the true impact of clouds on the Earth's energy balance will be uncertain. While they found that tall storm clouds have the largest impact on the amount of incoming solar energy that reaches the surface, these are infrequent tropical visitors.

  • Conceptual art showing SOA formation

    Finding the Missing Particles

    For the past 20 years, models explained one-tenth of the carbon-rich secondary organic aerosols measured in the air. The problem turned out to be a series of basic assumptions used in the models due to a lack of experimental data. The models assumed the particles were liquids and were rather short-lived on their journey away from their sources. All of these assumptions and more were proven false by Dr. Alla Zelenyuk and her colleagues at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, Imre Consulting, University of Washington, and University of California at Irvine.

  • Tibetan Glacier

    Glacier's Sooty Secrets

    Soot from burning biomass and fossil fuels leaves a historical record frozen in snow and ice. Researchers at PNNL and collaborators from the Chinese Academy of Sciences designed a unique climate model tracer tagging techniqueto identify the particles' sources and the cause of their historical trends. Their results show that soot recorded in the southeastern Tibetan glacier, which has been increasing in recent decades, primarily originated in South Asia during non-monsoon months.

How do human activities and natural systems interact to affect the Earth's climate? Ultimately, that is the question challenging scientists in PNNL’s Atmospheric Sciences & Global Change Division.

Read more about our organization.   [+ expand/ - collapse]

Atmospheric Sciences & Global Change

Seminar Series

Fundamental & Computational Sciences