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AGU journal highlights - 6 January 2004

osphere. Renno et al. present a theoretical study that suggests that Martian dust storms, like terrestrial dust squalls, produce strong electrical fields that can be observed from Earth. They based their analysis on anomalously strong microwave activity seen in regions known to have enhanced dust activity. The collisions of sand and dust particles produce a static electricity-like charge among the grains that generates radiation that can be measured by radio and microwave emissions in the ultra-low frequency range. Such triboelectric charging of dust is especially likely to discharge in dust particles because of the low atmospheric density on Mars. The authors note that Martian dust storms are much stronger, larger and more frequent than those on Earth and could thus lead to simple observations of the electromagnetic emissions on Mars.
Title: Electrical discharges and broadband radio emission by Martian dust devils and dust storms
Authors: Nilton O. Renno, Ah-San Wong, Sushil K. Atreya, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan; Imke de Pater, University of California, Berkeley, California; Maarteen Roos-Serote, Lisbon Astronomical Observatory, Tapada da Ajuda, Lisbon, Portugal.
Source: Geophysical Research Letters (GL) paper 10.1029/2003GL017879, 2003
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7. First proof that plants absorb atmospheric nitrogen
Researchers have proven for the first time that vegetation can directly absorb atmospheric organic nitrogen. Sparks et al. report that plant leaves can remove organic forms of nitrogen, which could have a significant effect on atmospheric carbon and nitrogen cycles. The authors measured the uptake rate in eight plant species representing vegetation from a range of global climates and found that the pores on the leaves' surface largely determine a plant's absorption characteristics. They estimate that plants could remo
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Contact: Harvey Leifert
hleifert@agu.org
202-777-7507
American Geophysical Union
6-Jan-2004


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