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Blowing in the wind: transatlantic pollution

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Jochen Stutz welcomes a visitor to his enclosed concrete perch five stories above Appledore Island - a speck of rock and scrub that is one of several tightly packed islands making up the Isles of Shoals, six miles east of Kittery, Maine.

Most folks come to these islands for the sun, sea, and solitude. Dr. Stutz comes for the air pollution.

"Here, you get what comes from Boston and New York," the atmospheric chemist from the University of California at Los Angeles explains as he tends an instrument that measures airborne pollutants. "The Isles of Shoals are right in the path."

Dr. Stutz and a handful of colleagues at this outpost represent one element in an unprecedented international effort this summer to study regional and transatlantic air pollution and its potential effect on climate. The immediate goal is to provide information that will improve daily air-pollution forecasts from Boston to Brussels and give climate scientists a better idea of how pollution from North America directly and indirectly alters the amount of heat the atmosphere retains from the sun.

Inadvertently, however, the research also may build a case for international cooperation in combating air pollution.

The work is critical to setting emissions standards, says Daniel Jacob, an atmospheric chemist at Harvard University. Otherwise, "you could find that your efforts are being defeated by ozone pollution" from somewhere else.

Within the past five years, scientists have grown to appreciate the globe- trotting nature of ozone in the lower atmosphere and of tiny particles called aerosols, says Dr. Jacob, a member of the international research effort known as the International Consortium for Atmospheric Research on Transport and Transformation (ICARTT).


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