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First Results in from Research Exploring Pollution and Climate Change in West Africa
September 15, 2016
Scientists say the first results of a 5-year project to measure atmospheric conditions over southern West Africa are in, with encouraging results for better understanding pollution sources and acting on climate change. The DACCIWA researchers measured air-pollution plumes that originate in Accra, Abidjan, Lomé, and Cotonou, to map the relationship between emissions that originate in the coastal cities and their impact up to 300 kilometers inland.
The haze-generating plumes show high amounts of organic matter, said Peter Knippertz, a professor at Karlsruhe Institute of Technology in Germany and head of the DACCIWA team. The practice of burning trash, agricultural waste and charcoal fuels contributes to the high particulate count.
That, in turn, combines with sea salt from the south and wind-blown Saharan dust from the north, to create unique atmospheric conditions in West Africa. When combined with power plant and oil-industry carbon emissions, the plumes waft inland and affect the savannahs and inland forests of the region. The haze changes available sunlight and affects temperature, wind, cloud formation and particle-altered rainfall.