Many photographs of the Southeast’s Smoky Mountains show layers of tall hills, shading to purples and grays in the distance. Tiny particles in the atmosphere help create the effect, which makes for stunning pictures. But human-caused enhancements of those fine particles also contribute to poor air quality in the Southeastern U.S., and may help explain why the region has not warmed like the rest of the nation. So this summer, scientists from the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences (CIRES) at the University of Colorado Boulder, NOAA and colleagues from dozens of other institutions took one of the most detailed looks ever at the natural and manmade emissions that affect air quality in the Southeast, and their movement and chemical transformations within the atmosphere. The mission, called Southeast Nexus or SENEX, should help scientists determine the origin of the fine particles and how they contribute to the haziness in the region and affect regional air quality and temperature trends.
To learn more about the mission's goals, see cires.colorado.edu/news/press/2013/SASSENEX.html.
SENEX is also part of an even broader Southern Atmosphere Study, eol.ucar.edu/projects/sas/.
Thanks to the many agencies and people participating in these important missions. Participants include: The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the National Center for Atmospheric Research, the National Science Foundation, the Electric Power Research Institute and dozens of other academic, research and private institutions.