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Published on Dec 15, 2009
Tiny air pollution particles commonly called soot, but also known as black carbon, are in the air and on the move throughout our planet. Black carbon enters the air when fossil fuels and biofuels, such as coal, wood, and diesel are burned. Since black carbon readily absorbs heat from sunlight, the particles can affect Earth's climate, especially on a regional scale. Though global distribution of soot remains difficult to measure, NASA researchers use satellite data and computer models to better understand how these short-lived particles influence Earth's climate, cryosphere, and clouds. This scientific data visualization uses data from the GEOS5 GOCART climate model to show black carbon's atmospheric concentration from August to November in 2009.
Credit: NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center Scientific Visualization Studio