August 10, 2018
Web Feature

Long-Term Aerosol Trends in the Continental United States

During 1980–2014, aerosols arriving from East Asia offset radiative flux increases in the western United States induced by domestic air pollution reductions

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Long-Term Aerosol Trends in the Continental United States

The Science

Aerosols from U.S. industrial sources have decreased in recent decades. However, changes in emissions in other regions of the world also influence U.S. aerosol trends through long-range transport.

A study led by scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy's Pacific Northwest National Laboratory revealed the influence of domestic and foreign emissions on trends of aerosols and their effect on energy balance in the United States from 1980-2014. Researchers found that, in the western United States, increases in aerosols from East Asia decreased the radiative warming effect induced by reductions in U.S. emissions by 25 percent.

The Impact

Because they can either absorb or reflect energy, aerosols are important components influencing air quality and atmospheric changes. Quantifying the source of aerosols and their influence on energy balance is necessary for predicting future air quality and Earth system changes. As industrial aerosols decrease in the United States, foreign emissions become increasingly influential on the energy balance over the country.


User Facilities: The research used computational resources at the National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center (NERSC), a DOE Office of Science user facility.

Reference: Y. Yang, H. Wang, S.J. Smith, R. Zhang, S. Lou, H. Yu, C. Li, P.J. Rasch, "Source Apportionments of Aerosols and Their Direct Radiative Forcing and Long-Term Trends Over Continental United States." Earth's Future 6 (2018). [DOI: 10.1029/2018EF000859]

Key Capabilities

Published: August 10, 2018

Research Team

Yang Yang, Hailong Wang, Rudong Zhang, Sijia Lou, and Philip J. Rasch, PNNL
Steven J. Smith, PNNL (Joint Global Change Research Institute)
Hongbin Yu, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center
Can Li, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center/University of Maryland