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Rachel Cucinotta was able to develop some of her interest in atmospheric chemistry with her CMMAP summer project this year.

"Throughout most of the third world there are not adequate and acceptable waste collection practices so there are limited options which inhabitants are forced with the everyday practice of burning their waste. The discarded waste smolders continuously and emits dangerous levels of black carbon and organic aerosols into the atmosphere. Black carbon and organic aerosols can have destructive effects on the climate and the public's health.

"My research involved PM2.5, a particle smaller than 2.5 microns that you can breathe easily into your lungs, and aerosol optical depth (AOD), the intensity of light that reaches the surface without being scattered or absorbed by an aerosol. The GEOS-Chem-TOMAS model's output was compared to observations from SPARTAN and AERONET networks to identify how the PM2.5 concentrations and AOD were changing when including the trash burning emissions. Most trash burning location's AOD was increasing between 4.5-6% because of domestic waste burning!"

Rachel's other research interests are severe weather, cloud dynamics, radar and synoptic meteorology. Her summer research poster, Changes in Aerosol Optical Depth and PM2.5 Concentrations due to Open Domestic Waste Burning, may be found here.

When she isn't studying aerosols, Rachel likes to hike, do yoga, spend time with friends and travel.

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