Feeds

Pollution-gobbling molecules in global warming SMACKDOWN

Boffins: Newly observed particles scrub our filthy air

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

Elusive pollution-busting molecules are scrubbing our planet's atmosphere at a much faster rate than first imagined, according to gas-bothering boffins.

Reactions by the cleaning agents, known as Criegee intermediates, are also emitting a by-product that forms solar radiation-reflecting clouds that could help cool Earth and reduce the effects of global warming.

The Criegee biradicals were first hypothesised in the 1950s by German chemist Rudolf Criegee, but only now have they been recreated in a lab and directly measured for the first time. Specifically, the scientists took formaldehyde oxide – a species of Creigee intermediate – and observed it reacting with sulphur dioxide and nitrogen dioxide.

These dioxides are said to initiate climate change in our atmosphere, yet it's now understood they are removed from the troposphere by helpful Criegee biradicals – described as pivotal atmospheric reactants. The reaction also spews sulphate and nitrate into the atmosphere, creating aerosol droplets that seed planet-cooling clouds.

The rate of compound conversion is much higher than the boffins expected, leading them to conclude that the biradicals may have a greater impact on our climate than previously thought. The production of Earth's short-lived Criegee biradical stocks are fuelled by the combination of ozone and chemicals released naturally by plants.

The intermediates, otherwise known as carbonyl oxide biradicals, were spotted by researchers from Sandia's Combustion Research Facility, the University of Manchester and Bristol University. The eggheads used a particle accelerator at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in the US to observe the process using photoionisation mass spectrometry - there's a video describing their work here.

Criegee intermediates react in lab conditions

"We have been able to quantify how fast Criegee radicals react for the first time. Our results will have a significant impact on our understanding of the oxidising capacity of the atmosphere and have wide ranging implications for pollution and climate change," said project chief Dr Carl Percival of the University of Manchester.

The University of Bristol's Professor Dudley Shallcross, who co-wrote the paper, added: "Natural ecosystems could be playing a significant role in off-setting global warming."

The scientists' paper, Direct Kinetic Measurements of Criegee Intermediate (CH2OO) Formed by Reaction of CH2I with O2, was published in the latest issue of Science. ®

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
Antarctic ice THICKER than first feared – penguin-bot boffins
Robo-sub scans freezing waters, rocks warming models
Your PHONE is slowly KILLING YOU
Doctors find new Digitillnesses - 'text neck' and 'telepressure'
SEX BEAST SEALS may be egging each other on to ATTACK PENGUINS
Boffin: 'I think the behaviour is increasing in frequency'
Reuse the Force, Luke: SpaceX's Elon Musk reveals X-WING designs
And a floating carrier for recyclable rockets
The next big thing in medical science: POO TRANSPLANTS
Your brother's gonna die, kid, unless we can give him your, well ...
NASA launches new climate model at SC14
75 days of supercomputing later ...
Britain's HUMAN DNA-strewing Moon mission rakes in £200k
3 days, and Kickstarter moves lander 37% nearer takeoff
prev story

Whitepapers

Seattle children’s accelerates Citrix login times by 500% with cross-tier insight
Seattle Children’s is a leading research hospital with a large and growing Citrix XenDesktop deployment. See how they used ExtraHop to accelerate launch times.
Why CIOs should rethink endpoint data protection in the age of mobility
Assessing trends in data protection, specifically with respect to mobile devices, BYOD, and remote employees.
A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Protecting against web application threats using SSL
SSL encryption can protect server‐to‐server communications, client devices, cloud resources, and other endpoints in order to help prevent the risk of data loss and losing customer trust.