Does Aerosol Size Matter?

The three of us, Lee, James, and Young, have been fortunate enough to participate in research for the first time in our undergraduate careers, down at the SIO Hydraulics lab with CAICE.

Lee James and Young

Lee, James & Young working on the wave channel to measure the size distribution of aerosol particles generated by breaking waves

As students with backgrounds in chemistry and the environment, it’s hard to think of a better situation to be in, helping save the planet and all. Young and Lee are UCSD seniors studying chemistry, and James is a sophomore studying environmental science at Warren Wilson College.

So far in the lab, we have been trained to be in charge of instruments that measure the size and count the number of particles in the air. More specifically, we look at sea spray aerosols that are produced from bubbles bursting.

Wave Channel

33 m long wave channel at Scripps Institution of Oceanography Hydraulics Laboratory

With the new 33-meter wave flume (see photo) that was designed to mimic waves breaking and bubbles bursting in the ocean, we hope to find out what biological and chemical phenomena are characteristic of different particle sizes. If all goes well, this will help researchers improve existing climate models with more knowledge and understanding of the effects of sea spray aerosols on the atmosphere.

Besides using cool instruments and working on experiments, one of the best parts of research at CAICE is the people of CAICE. The other undergraduate students, graduate students and postdocs are incredibly generous and fun to work with. Not a single birthday is missed without some sort of celebration and cake. And, of course, we always look forward to coffee runs and playing frisbee together at the end of a long day.

–Lee Elmont, James Mayer, Young Jeong

Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation (NSF).

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