Science

This amazing NASA map shows clouds of particles spreading across the globe

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NASA

There’s something in the air.

A lot of things, actually. And new images from NASA show in dramatic fashion how invisible particulates — such as smoke, dust and sea salt — spread across the globe.

A computer-enhanced visualization from NASA’s Goddard Earth Observing System Forward Processing model shows various particulates, known as aerosols, swirling around the planet.



NASA

The color-coded images, taken on Aug. 23, show smoke from wildfires across western North America billowing as far east as the mid-Atlantic Ocean; dust storms spreading from the Sahara to Central Asia; and sea-salt aerosols from massive storms in the Pacific Ocean, including two tropical cyclones near South Korea and Japan and Hurricane Lane near Hawaii. Central Africa is also seen clouded by smoke, which NASA said is from farmers burning agricultural land.

Read: Here’s how climate change is affecting your cup of coffee

It’s unclear how out of the ordinary that particular day was, but scientists say events that cause increased particulate matter — such as wildfires and hurricanes — are being exacerbated by global warming. Some particulates, such as smoke from wildfires, can cause unhealthy air quality and health problems.

And while the image looks menacing, it’s pretty much just another day on planet Earth. NASA notes that every time you breathe, “Even if the air looks clear, it is nearly certain that you will inhale millions of solid particles and liquid droplets,” which are found in nearly every ecosystem.

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