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Stratospheric Aerosol MeasurementsStratospheric aerosols affect the atmospheric energy balance by scattering and absorbing solar and terrestrial radiation. They also can alter stratospheric chemical cycles by catalyzing heterogeneous reactions which markedly perturb odd nitrogen, chlorine and ozone levels. Aerosol measurements by satellites began in NASA in 1975 with the Stratospheric Aerosol Measurement (SAM) program, to be followed by the Stratospheric Aerosol and Gas Experiment (SAGE) starting in 1979. Both programs employ the solar occultation, or Earth limb extinction, techniques. Major results of these activities include the discovery of polar stratospheric clouds (PSCs) in both hemispheres in winter, illustrations of the impacts of major (El Chichon 1982 and Pinatubo 1991) eruptions, and detection of a negative global trend in lower stratospheric/upper tropospheric aerosol extinction. This latter result can be considered a triumph of successful worldwide sulfur emission controls. The SAGE record will be continued and improved by SAGE III, currently scheduled for multiple launches beginning in 2000 as part of the Earth Observing System (EOS). The satellite program has been supplemented by in situ measurements aboard the ER-2 (20 km ceiling) since 1974, and from the DC-8 (13 km ceiling) aircraft beginning in 1989. Collection by wire impactors and subsequent electron microscopic and X-ray energy-dispersive analyses, and optical particle spectrometry have been the principle techniques. Major findings are: (1) The stratospheric background aerosol consists of dilute sulfuric acid droplets of around 0.1 micrometer modal diameter at concentration of tens to hundreds of monograms per cubic meter; (2) Soot from aircraft amounts to a fraction of one percent of the background total aerosol; (3) Volcanic eruptions perturb the sulfuric acid, but not the soot, aerosol abundance by several orders of magnitude; (4) PSCs contain nitric acid at temperatures below 195K, supporting chemical hypotheses implicating manmade fluorocarbons as cause of the --'ozone hole'; (5) The current soot loading is too small to be of environmental (radiative and chemical) consequence. However, the fractal nature of soot distinguishes it aerodynamically and radiatively from sulfuric acid droplets such that its stratospheric residence time is longer, mainly because of vertical transport against gravity due to gravito-photophoretic forces. Thus it may accumulate and become of environmental concern in the future.
Document ID
Document Type
Conference Paper
Pueschel, Rudolf, F.
(NASA Ames Research Center Moffett Field, CA United States)
Gore, Warren J.
Date Acquired
August 20, 2013
Publication Date
January 1, 1998
Subject Category
Meteorology And Climatology
Meeting Information
Symposium on Advanced Enviornmental Monitoring(Kwangju)
Funding Number(s)
PROJECT: RTOP 622-65-26-10
Distribution Limits
Work of the US Gov. Public Use Permitted.

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