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Dr. Alan Bandy Conducts Study on Atmospheric Cooling
Dr. Alan Bandy, R.S. Hansen Professor of Chemistry, has been awarded a grant by the National Science Foundation to conduct research on Earth’s cooling system.
The temperature of Earth’s atmosphere is determined by processes that heat it—such as absorption of Earth’s radiation by certain gases—and by processes that cool it—such as reflection of the sun’s radiation from Earth’s surface, aerosol and clouds. The Pacific Atmospheric Sulfur Experiment (PASE) will focus on the clouds in the marine atmosphere, and on the cloud-free region beneath them, as Dr. Bandy’s team examines and identifies elements believed to control cloud reflectivity and thus the cooling potential of the clouds.
“Although processes that cool and heat the atmosphere are equally important, the cooling processes, on which PASE is focused, are much less well known than the heating processes,” said Dr. Bandy. “This phenomenon occurs because heating terms involve gases that are relatively easy to deal with whereas cooling terms largely involve condensed phases such as Earth’s surface, aerosols and clouds, which are very complex and thus difficult to study.”
Dr. Bandy’s experiment is airborne and will be conducted at a low altitude (30 to 2000m) about 200 km east of Christmas Island (Kiritimas). Bandy and a team of 35 researchers from the University of Hawaii, University of Rhode Island, Georgia Tech, National Center for Atmospheric Research, Desert Research Institute, and University of California-Davis conducted the experiment aboard a NCAR C130 on July 17. The team left for Christmas Island on July 30 and will remain there for about six weeks.
Dr. Bandy is the principal investigator in PASE and the author of more than 120 publications. Dr. Bandy has been a principal investigator of numerous NSF and NASA missions. His research focuses on the development of methods and instrumentation for determining trace gaseous species in the atmosphere using mass spectrometry; the chemistry of atmospheric sulfur, nitrogen and halogens; the nucleation and growth of new atmospheric particles; the condensation nuclei formation from trace gas precursors in the marine atmosphere and their impact on clouds and climate; and modeling of solution and gas phase conversion processes.