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Los Alamos National Laboratory

Los Alamos National Laboratory

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Warming by Wildfire?

Carbon released into the atmosphere by wildfires has unexpectedly complex effects on climate change
April 1, 2014
Warming by Wildfire?

False-color electron microscope image of aerosol particles from the 2011 Las Conchas wildfire in New Mexico

Better climate models with new data on atmospheric particulates from wildfires

When the enormous Las Conchas wildfire burned in the mountains adjacent to the Los Alamos National Laboratory, a team of climate scientists deployed aerosol emissions sensors to collect carbon particles in the air. After analyzing the particle shapes, sizes, chemical compositions, and abundances, they discovered that two categories of wildfire-produced particles, tarballs and soot, had different properties than were previously known. These properties affect how the particles contribute to climate change and could potentially lead to faster global warming than what current climate models predict.

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