Earth’s atmosphere contains tiny liquid and solid particles called aerosols. Natural aerosol particles, such as dust and sea salt, tend to be larger than human-produced aerosols, such as particle pollution from burning fossil fuels. These aerosol size maps are based on data from the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Terra satellite. Green areas show where the aerosols that were present were mostly larger particles. Red areas show where aerosols consisted mostly of small particles. Yellow areas show plumes with an even mix of small and large particles. Gray shows where the sensor did not collect data.
The rainfall maps show total monthly rainfall in millimeters as recorded by NASA’s Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) satellite. High rain totals are represented in dark blue, while small rainfall totals are shown in white. TRMM measures rainfall in the tropics. High-latitude regions, where TRMM does not record rainfall, are gray.