Grant to Study How Liquid Aerosols Impact Climate

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Female scientist in blue tee shirt in lab setting.
With a new Department of Energy grant, Qi Zhang is studying aerosols formed from chemical reactions in atmospheric water droplets.

The U.S. Department of Energy has awarded a $560,000 grant to Professor Qi Zhang, Department of Environmental Toxicology, to study secondary organic aerosols and further understand how pollution affects the atmosphere.

Zhang’s research over the course of three years will examine how organic aerosols that are formed through reactions in atmospheric liquid water, such as cloud droplets, affect global climate.

Aerosols formed through gas reactions are well-studied but less is known about the aqueous typewhich can behave differently and carry unique features.

Zhang’s research will focus on analyzing field observations.

“We know the atmosphere is an open system,” Zhang said. “Identifying fingerprints can help us interpret the field data.”

Zhang said her research will help fill in some gaps by using data and modeling to improve understanding of how air pollution or atmospheric chemistry effects the earth’s climate.

Her grant was one of 26 research projects funded through the department’s Atmospheric Research program. In all, $15.6 million was awarded to help improve understanding of the earth’s systems, the agency said. The proposal was selected from among 85 projects.

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Emily C. Dooley is a writer with the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences. 

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