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Hello! I am a PhD candidate in the Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences at the University of Wisconsin, advised by Prof. Tristan L'Ecuyer. My research investigates the complex role of aerosol particles in the global energy budget through satellite and model analyses to improve the prediction of future climate.

I am a strategic storyteller, data visualizer, complex problem solver, and dedicated researcher. My passion is sharing science stories with the public through engaging data visualizations.

My research interests include satellite remote sensing, cloud-aerosol-radiation interactions, atmospheric chemistry, and air quality. I have been involved in the field of atmospheric sciences through interning at NASA LaRC, attending workshops (WAS*IS, NCAR ULW), and presenting at professional conferences (AMS, AIAA, ESIP). Upon graduation (expected summer 2017), I plan to pursue a career in atmospheric science at a government research lab.

I hope you enjoy this website. Feel free to contact me at !

Best wishes,
Alex Matus

Aerosols and Climate

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Atmospheric aerosols — airborne liquid or solid particles — are a critical source of uncertainty in climate science. Aerosols can change Earth's radiation balance by scattering and absorbing sunlight. Whereas most aerosols scatter sunlight which cools the atmosphere, some aerosols (including soot and dust) absorb sunlight which heats the atmosphere.

The behavior of aerosol affects the world around us every day. The scattering properties of aerosols, for example, makes a hazy sky appear brighter than a clear sky. You may notice this on a hot summer day. Since much of the sunlight is scattered back to space, aerosols can greatly reduce the intensity of sunlight reaching the surface. In heavily polluted areas aerosols can reduce sunlight reaching the surface by over 10%.

Aerosols are typically categorized according to their chemical composition. Common aerosol types include sulfate, organic carbon, black carbon, nitrate, mineral dust, and sea salt. Interestingly, most aerosols are not composed purely of a single chemical species, but rather a complex mixture of several types.

The chemical composition of these particles provides valuable information about their source origins. About 90% of aerosols have natural origins, whereas 10% are produced as result of human activity. The two most abundant types of aerosols are mineral dust and sea salt, which are primarily naturally produced in the atmosphere. Naturally produced aerosols are generally larger in size than human-produced aerosols, of which the major sources are fossil fuel combustion and biomass burning. Particle size, shape, and composition are all critical factors that govern the radiative effects of aerosols on the climate system.

If you would like to view satellite-based estimates of aerosol radiative effects, and other atmospheric profiles, check out the CloudSat Quicklooks!