University Post
University of Copenhagen
Independent of management


New chemical discovered in clouds

Researchers from University of Copenhagen help uncover the missing link in cloud formation

A newly discovered aerosol compound helps researchers explain how clouds are formed.

The discovery of the so called dihydroxyepoxides (an aerosol-precursor), is reported in Science magazine by a team comprising of researchers from the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) and the University of Copenhagen, writes the Pittsburgh Weather Examiner.

Missing link

According to Professor Henrik Kjærgaard from the Department of Chemistry at the University of Copenhagen, the new compound is the missing link in understanding how clouds form over forested areas.

The team studied the breakdown of the hydrocarbon isoprene which is released by trees.

Previous research had been done over cities where there were high levels of a combustion by-product NOx, hindering the formation of the newly discovered compound.

Compound formed in pristine air

The new compound was discovered when the team fixed a Chemical Ionization Mass Spectrometer (CIMS) onto an aeroplane, and flew it over the pristine oak forests of North America.

A greater understanding of cloud formation will help researchers predict climate change, as clouds can retain as well as block the heat of the sun.