Study finds Earth’s atmosphere can clean itself
Scientists have made a groundbreaking discovery that could change the way we think about air pollution. Researchers at the University of California, Irvine, have found that a strong electric field between airborne water droplets and surrounding air can create a molecule called hydroxide (OH) by a previously unknown mechanism
This molecule is crucial in helping to clear the air of pollutants, including greenhouse gases and other chemicals.
The discovery is outlined in a new paper published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, which suggests that the traditional thinking around the formation of OH in the atmosphere is incomplete. Until now, it was thought that sunlight was the primary driver of OH formation, but this new research shows that OH can be created spontaneously by the special conditions on the surface of water droplets.
“You need OH to oxidize hydrocarbons, otherwise they would build up in the atmosphere indefinitely,” said Sergey Nizkorodov, a University of California, Irvine professor of chemistry, who was part of the research team.
What a planet we have!