Pollution | VOL. 16, ISSUE 95, March-April 2016

Atmospheric Aerosols

Atmospheric aerosols are one of the primary air pollutants within the troposphere and usually have an adverse influence on hydrological cycle, crops, plants, human health and visibility. They are capable of influencing weather and climate over a particular region though their role is highly uncertain and difficult to understand (Stocker et al., 2013). They can modulate the total radiation the earth is exposed to through several direct and indirect ways. Directly, they scatter and absorb solar radiation and cause a cooling effect in the atmosphere whereas indirectly, their effect involves modification of cloud microphysical properties including droplet size, lifetime and cloud height, to serve as cloud condensation nuclei for cloud formation (Tao et al., 2012). This process is depicted in Figure 1. Since developing countries like India and China, are undergoing massive industrialisation and economic growth, anthropogenic aerosol content in the atmosphere is found to be increasing (Kaskaoutis et al., 2012; Du et al., 2015), and aerosols are expected to modulate weather and climate over India. How are aerosols produced? Atmospheric aerosols are produced through natural and anthropogenic processes. Anthropogenic activities include fossil fuel and biomass burning, mining activities, modification of the natural land-use and cover, and changes in industrial and agricultural practices. Natural phenomena such as dust and sandstorms transport mineral dust particles to distant places from their source and contribute to atmospheric aerosol...

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