To gain better understanding of aerosols, dozens of scientists from NASA, the U.S. Navy, United Arab Emirates (UAE), and research organizations from around the world are meeting in the Arabian Desert during August and September 2004 to decipher the impact of aerosols on the region's weather and climate.
The United Arab Emirates Unified Aerosol Experiment (UAE2) will rely on satellites, computer models, aircraft, and ground stations to understand the unique "mixing bowl" of desert dust, smoke, and man-made emissions worsened by the region's extraordinary meteorological conditions. Temperatures inland in UAE often exceed 122°F (50°C). Humidity over the Persian Gulf is high while away from the coast it often falls below 10%. Frequent land-sea breeze circulation also mixes air from over land and sea.
While many aerosols occur naturally, originating from volcanoes, dust storms, forest and grassland fires, some are created through human activities, such as altering natural surface cover and burning of fossil fuels and biofuels (e.g., wood and dung burning).
Scientists know that aerosol particles from factories and power plants increase the number of droplets in clouds and make those droplets smaller. In doing so, the pollutants create more reflective clouds that may retain their water longer and produce less rain. These results offer proof that our industrial processes and need for energy are changing the global climate and local weather systems.