A very common question that people asked on Quora is: Is air quality better by the ocean? While most people will answer yes to the question, they don’t know how or why the air quality can be better in coastal environment. Let’s find out in our article.
Is air quality better by the ocean?
Yes, the air quality is better by the ocean. According to recent UPI’s study, the oceans help to reduce air pollution by cleaning any unclean clouds above them with a breath of salt spray.
According to the researchers, the way heavy air pollution appears to wash away relatively rapidly when it combines with clouds above the seas could help scientists devise novel techniques to purify the air over land as well.
Let’s take a look at Which city has the cleanest air in the world, and if you’re living in these cities, you’re in heaven.
“By cloud-seeding with salt spray, we may intentionally duplicate what nature does over the ocean over land,” said Daniel Rosenfeld, a cloud physicist at Hebrew University of Jerusalem. “In Israel, we have begun such an experiment for rain enhancement, with preliminary good results.”
Although the findings are somewhat reassuring, Rosenfeld cautioned that depending on the oceans to clean up after humanity’s waste is not a good idea because air pollution returns to Earth as acid rain. Furthermore, while the air above islands such as Hawaii remains pristine, the atmosphere on the mainland will remain as polluted as before.
“With the help of the oceans, air pollution will eventually start to diminish, but it will get a lot worse before it starts to get better,” Rosenfeld added.
Atmospheric pollution from fires, deserts, and cities consists of microscopic particles a thousandth the width of a human hair. When these filthy bits cling to water in clouds, the resulting droplets are too small to fall as rain and instead form a fine mist. Previous research has revealed that this phenomenon causes reduced rainfall over land.
“You can’t wipe away pollution from the atmosphere without a lot of precipitation,” Rosenfeld explained. That implies air pollution will remain trapped over land until the clouds become so large (3.7 miles high) that they break into storms.
Rosenfeld and his colleagues discovered that unclean clouds have little trouble shedding rain over the seas. “Sea salt aerosols play a significant influence in this distinction,” he said. Large sea salt particles in ocean air appear to attract smaller water droplets that develop around air pollution particles.
“The salty oceans can act as highly effective ‘green’ lungs for cleaning up almost any amount of air pollution that we can put in the atmosphere in the near future,” Rosenfeld added.
When researchers examined the flow of cool and dirty air from the winter monsoons off Southeast Asia to the relatively warm waters of the Indian Ocean, they discovered that the clouds produced rainfall when they were only approximately 1.3 miles high.
“Nature provides us, the polluters, a reprieve. Once over the water, it cleans the air “According to Yoram Kaufman, a senior atmospheric scientist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. Although Kaufman found the findings “interesting,” he stressed that the study “must be repeated on a bigger scale” to determine whether this phenomena has a larger, worldwide influence.
The researchers stated that they are currently testing cloud seeding techniques from planes by spraying clouds above Israel with extremely concentrated salt from the adjacent Dead Sea. So far, larger water droplets have been found inside the clouds, but “there is still a very long way to go to operational seeding,” according to Rosenfeld.
Researches show that the ocean is an air filter
Researchers from UC San Diego have shown that the water functions as an air filter at night, collecting contaminants that mix with the sea surface after the sun goes down.
Nitrogen oxides are one of the pollutants produced by the combustion of fossil fuels. Michelle Kim, a Scripps Institution of Oceanography graduate student, and Tim Bertram, a UC San Diego Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry researcher, tracked nitrogen oxides from the smoggy skies over Los Angeles to the surface of the ocean off San Diego, where air pollution frequently travels.
They discovered that the ocean acts as a “sink” for these molecules that react with sunlight, removing approximately 15% of these compounds from the atmosphere. What is not absorbed remains in the atmosphere. When the sun shines again and the photochemicals degrade, they can combine with other molecules in the atmosphere to form ozone, a global warming agent.
“We knew from prior research that nitrogen oxides are lost to numerous surfaces, including sea spray and other aerosols, as well as snowpack,” said Kim, who is co-advised by Bertram and Scripps oceanographer Grant Deane. “For the first time, this study reveals that the ocean is a sink for nitrogen oxides at night.”
The National Science Foundation-funded study is part of a larger effort by climate scientists to understand where air pollution goes after it is formed and how it affects natural systems. According to Bertram and Kim, experts had questioned if the ocean could be the final resting place for some nitrogen oxides but lacked the technology to track their progress.
Bertram’s instruments and private enterprises such as Boston-based Aerodyne, as well as the unique measurement facilities housed at the end of the Scripps Pier, led to a solution.
The equipment created by the researchers measured updrafts and downdrafts over the ocean surface, as well as the chemical composition of those winds, a situation known as eddy covariance. According to Bertram, the Scripps Pier is one of the few places in the world where atmospheric scientists may “test drive” micrometeorology procedures like this.
“The facility is incredible. “We can send these instruments out in the environment while still managing the settings,” Bertram explained. “I can’t conceive of any other place in the world where these difficult measurements might be performed.”
Kim chose nights with favorable onshore flows (winds blowing in from the ocean) to study overnight changes in the quantities of compounds formed by the importing of nitrogen oxides from Los Angeles to the La Jolla shoreline. She discovered a net reduction in certain forms of the pollutant but no net gain in other forms, which are frequently produced when nitrogen oxides combine with sea salt particles.