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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 Ibrahim (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
In early June 2014, the research team held their  first annual workshop where all researchers and team members from the three project subgroups (remote sensing, climate modeling, and education/outreach) presented a comprehensive report of their work and results during the previous 11 months. The discussions and exchange of ideas led to a few lines of investigations that were pursued in July, August and September. 

The education and outreach component of the project has been ongoing as well: (1) Air, Water, Light Quality Map of the Greater Cairo has been developed. Using air quality sensors, measurements were made by the undergraduate researchers over the greater Cairo area and they were added to our air/water/Light (UV) quality map which is available at (2) An educational video for the project was developed by the project team to introduce aerosols and their impact to the general public, including a section on public health. The video is accessible to school teachers for viewing in their classes. An Arabic version of the video will be developed during the second year of the project. The video is available at: (3) A website for the project was developed during August and launched in September. The objective of the website is give the general public an outlet to find more information about aerosols and air pollution, a hot regional issue that has direct effect on health and people’s lives, and possibly get more engaged into being aware and active in reducing the layman’s contribution to the aerosol bulk. The website currently includes a brief of the projects’ objectives, outreach activities, partners, and team.  The website is currently available at:, and will soon be transferred to the project’s own domain name: (4) Award Ceremonies for the School Science Fair Winners held during the 5th annual Cairo Science Festival and the National Science Month was organized in August. Two events were held to accommodate students from different geographic areas (students from as far as Alexandria and Fayoum governorates participated in the science fair and were among the winners). One event was attended by the Minister of Education and the other was attended by the Minister of Scientific Research and the President of the Egyptian Academy of Science, among other VIPs.  (5) Building a basis for classroom activities to engage school students. The education and outreach team of the project has been in touch with school teachers to develop a set of classroom activities to enrich the existing curriculum on environmental topics including air pollution and aerosols. During August and September activities and resources were collected to build a structure for the educational plan for this year. 

In December 2014, Dr. Ibrahim is planning to present the project results at the American Geophysical Union (AGU) Fall Meeting in San Francisco. Dr. Ibrahim is also planning to meet with the U.S. Partner Dr. Allison Steiner to discuss the first year's project results and future plans of the project. An exchange visit to George Washington University (GWU) and the Earth Observation Division at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC) has been arranged in order to benefit from the High Performance Computing (HPC) facility at GWU and the data resources and expertise at NASA GSFC.



2-239_Y1Q3_Minister of Education at the August 12, 2014 award ceremony

ESOF during the session “What environment is required to fulfill the role of a scientist” organized by the Global Young Academy (Photo courtesy Dr. Ibrahim).Minister of Education at the August 12, 2014 award ceremony of the Schools Science Fair held during the 5th annual Cairo Science Festival and
Egypt’s first National Science Month (Photo courtesy Dr. Ibrahim).
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