- Harbor Freight Tools plans to move ahead with Cape Girardeau store (12/5/17)2
- Feds ask judge to impose $6.5 million punishment for Cape surgeon (12/7/17)9
- Business Notebook: Yule Log Cabin gets home feel honestly (12/4/17)
- Former Wimpy's Drive-In owner Freeman Lewis dies (12/9/17)2
- Makeover at the movies: Transformation complete inside Cape theater (12/8/17)4
- Sugarfire Cape barbecue restaurant to open June 2018 (12/7/17)
- Rep. Lichtenegger proposes change to term limits (12/4/17)7
- Fire displaces family of seven (12/5/17)1
- Buffalo Wild Wings moving to new location in March (12/2/17)2
- Fruitland Army veteran spends weeks helping in ravaged Puerto Rico (12/5/17)2
Sea spray rinses out air pollution
WASHINGTON -- That salty spray from the ocean gives the air more than a refreshing tang. It appears to provide a scrubbing, too.
A team of Israeli researchers reports that, by encouraging increased rainfall, the sea spray helps wash pollution from the air.
"The conclusion stands that the air that we breathe near the surface remains clean because of the fact that the oceans are salty," said Daniel Rosenfeld of Hebrew University in Jerusalem.
"We have discovered a process by which nature apparently cleanses the ... air pollution quite effectively when it spills from land over to the oceans," he said.
Practically all the pollutants are removed at the lower layer of the atmosphere, Rosenfeld said. That is one reason why the air in Hawaii is always so pristine, except during volcanic eruptions, he said.
Rosenfeld and his colleagues used satellite data to study the air over the Indian Ocean, where massive amounts of particles from burning, urban air pollution and desert dust are blown from southern Asia.
But such effects "are not unique," he said.
Nearly three-fourths of the Earth's surface is covered by water and the winds are constantly moving air from land onto the oceans and from the oceans onto land worldwide.
Rosenfeld's findings were reported in the journal Science.
"The paper presents an interesting point, which has not been discussed for some time," said John N. Porter of the Hawaii Institute for Geophysics and Planetology.
Porter said the idea of sea salt initiating rainfall was proposed in the 1950s, but studies in the 1970s seemed to show it was not an important factor. Rosenfeld's work appears to support the earlier research, he said.
Porter, who was not on Rosenfeld's team, said his own research indicated salt helped to increase rainfall in relatively clean air but was less effective in more polluted conditions.