By Matt McGrath
Fatty acids released into the air from cooking may help form clouds that limit global warming, say scientists.
Researchers believe these molecules arrange themselves into complex 3-D structures in atmospheric droplets.
These aerosols persist for longer than normal and can seed the formation of clouds which experts say can have a cooling effect on the climate.
The authors say the study will shed new light on the long term role of aerosols on temperatures.
Atmospheric aerosols are one of the areas of climate science where there are considerable uncertainties.
deep fat fryingImage copyrightGETTY IMAGES
Molecules from deep fat frying may have a cooling effect on the climate
The description covers tiny particles that can be either solid or liquid, ranging from the dusts of the Saharan desert to soot to aerosols formed by chemical reaction.
These can have a variety of impacts, while most aerosols reflect sunlight back into space others absorb it.
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Aerosols and the clouds seeded by them, are said to reflect about a quarter of the Sun’s energy back into space.
Researchers have known for some time that the emissions of fatty acid molecules from chip pans and cookers may coat aerosol particles in the atmosphere – but this is the first time that scientists have looked at their role inside the droplets.
Using ultrasonic levitation to hold individual droplets of brine and oleic acid in position, the research team was able to make them float so they could analyse them with a laser beam and X-rays.
The study has been published in the journal Nature Communications.