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Partnerships for enhanced engagement in research (PEER) SCIENCE
Cycle 2 (2012 Deadline)

The impact of biogenic and anthropogenic atmospheric aerosols to climate in Egypt

PI: Alaa Ibranim (American University in Cairo)
U.S. Partner: Allison Steiner (University of Michigan)
Project Dates: August 2013 to July 2016

Egypt Partnership Picture A
PhD student Ms. Yasmin Aboel Fetouh and Dr. Alaa Ibrahim discussing Earth Observation Satellite data at the American University in Cairo (Photo courtesy Dr. Ibrahim).

Atmospheric aerosols are liquid or solid particles suspended in the atmosphere. Often observable as dust, smoke, and haze, they are ubiquitous in the air. Aerosols come from natural sources (biogenic), arising mainly from plant debris, mineral and humic matter, and microbial particles, and manmade sources (anthropogenic), arising primarily from a variety of combustion sources. They affect the Earth’s energy budget and climate by scattering and absorbing radiation; modifying amounts and microphysical and radiative properties of clouds; and altering the intensity of sunlight scattered back to space, absorbed in the atmosphere, and arriving at the surface. Atmospheric aerosols represent a key uncertainty in the understanding of the climate system and climate change. While anthropogenic aerosols have been the dominant focus of climate studies, biogenic aerosols can contribute up to 30% of the total aerosol volume and could be more significant in densely vegetated regions. Burning of agriculture byproducts (such as rice straw in the Nile Delta) increases the aerosol loading in the atmosphere even further and together with other biogenic and anthropogenic aerosols would almost certainly impact the climate dynamics and air quality. Despite observable high concentrations of aerosols in the metropolitan Cairo area, little is known about the composition and spatial distribution of aerosols in 
Egypt and their influence on the climate and climate change. This project will tackle the issue of  atmospheric aerosols through providing a national survey of aerosol sources in Egypt, assessing their impact to climate, climate change, and public health.
 
The project will build human capacity through hiring and training junior researchers in collaboration with the U.S. collaborator. The resultant national survey of aerosol particles in Egypt and their impact to climate, climate change, and public health are directly related to developmental issues in Egypt, particularly in megacities like Cairo and in other industrialized and agriculture areas throughout the country. The project's educational and outreach component will enhance the formal and informal educational curricula covering climate and climate change and their broad impacts through programs that target teachers, school students, and the general public. Special efforts will be made to streamline and communicate the research findings and recommendations as well as the educational and outreach initiatives to stakeholders among legislators, local authorities, and government officials so they shape informed policies.
 
Summary of Recent Activities
 
As the study commenced, Dr. Ali El-Hadidi and Ms. Yasmin Aboel Fetough were added to the project team. The team considered issues around the collection of space-borne aerosol emissions satellite data in order to perform data analysis. The analysis will come from feeding the data sets into statistical software to generate time-series graphs and perform cross-correlations. Data have been downloaded from both the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) and from the Tropospheric Emission Spectrometer (TES) on the Aura satellite, and analysis will be ongoing through the first half of 2014.
 
Future plans include the development of an aerosol emissions model, which will include biogenic emissions. There will also be an evaluation of the biogenic emissions model and uncertainty analysis. The team will be starting ground-based data collection. In addition, the project team will have an opportunity to participate in outreach and educational events during the 5th Annual Cairo Science Festival in the spring of 2014.
 
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