“Different kinds of particles are a different color,” explains climate scientist, Gavin Schmidt. “The easiest to see are the reddy-orange particles; those are dust and you can see them streaming them off the Sahara,” Also worth noting: white particles (pollution from burning coal and volcanoes); red dots (fires over a particular period); and blue color (seasalt being whipped up into air by the wind). Why should we care about any of this? “All of these particles in the air also affect the climate,” Schmidt says. Bringing together these disparate data in order to see how they all work together allows scientists to consider different future scenarios — and then plan for them.

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