PV Magazine – Sunrise Brief: Clouds And Storms Are Impacted By Lingering Wildfire Particles, Researchers Say

Also on the rise: Coal is down but not out as nukes and gas are forecast to decline in 2021, solar for an airport enters service, and landfill gas flows for SoCalGas from a facility slated to add a battery energy storage system.

As the frequency and size of wildfires continue to increase, research by Carnegie Mellon University scientists found that the chemical aging of particles emitted by fires can lead to more extensive cloud formation and intense storm development.

The researchers said that introducing large amounts of ice-nucleating particles due to fires can cause “substantial impacts “on cloud microphysics.

(Read “Storm season has the solar industry looking to protect assets from costly hail damage.”)

The scientists collected plant materials, burned them, and analyzed the particles emitted in the smoke. They focused on ice-nucleating particles that can catalyze ice crystal formation at higher-than-usual temperatures and affect cloud formation.

With a specialized chamber reactor, mass spectrometers, electron microscopy, and a microfluidic droplet freezing technique, the researchers analyzed the particles. They also simulated the aging that these particles would undergo in the atmosphere. Their work found that chemical aging of particles emitted by wildfires can lead to more extensive cloud formation.

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