Atmosphere Research UKZN-Westville

Atmospheric Research

The composition of the atmosphere

The atmosphere consists of various components not just the layers into which it is separated, within the atmosphere there are aerosols that form within the atmosphere. Aerosols are minute particles that are suspended in the atmosphere (National Aeronautics and space agency, 2014) .There particles interact in the atmosphere performing many functions like absorbing and scattering solar radiation. When aerosol particle size is adequately large enough they are capable of being noticed while scattering and absorbing solar radiation (National Aeronautics and space agency, 2014).While aerosols scattering effect is also capable of reducing visibility and change the appearance of a sunset or sunrise to a reddish nature (National Aeronautics and space agency, 2014).

Aerosols in the atmosphere interact both directly and indirectly with the earth’s radiation budget and climate. Aerosols in the lower part of the atmosphere can capable of modifying the size of cloud particles, changing how the clouds reflect and absorb sunlight, therefore affecting the Earth's energy budget (National Aeronautics and space agency,2014). As a direct effect, the aerosols scatter sunlight directly back into space. Aerosols that are caused by volcanic eruption are capable of causing changes in the stratospheric ozone layer as volcanic aerosols have a dramatic effect on the earth’s atmosphere (National geographic, 2014). Aerosols such as sulphur dioxide, hydrochloric acid and ash are released into the earth’s stratosphere, in the case of hydrochloric acid it condenses with water vapour and forms volcanic cloud formations (National geographic, 2014)