CANYON, Texas (KAMR/KCIT) — Officials with West Texas A&M University announced Wednesday that a team of researchers at the university recently received a grant from the US Department of Energy surrounding the study of aerosols in ice-containing clouds.

According to a news release from the university, the $150,000 grant from the US Department of Energy is expected to fund the joint research of Naruki Hiranuma, an associate professor of environmental science at West Texas A&M, Swastika Bithi, an assistant professor of engineering at the university, and Sanjoy Bhattacharia, an assistant professor of mechanical engineering at the university.

The research centers around aerosols, or ice-nucleating particles, the release said. The particles can increase precipitation and deplete clouds. Officials said that studying these aerosols is important in the Arctic, where accelerated warming is occurring.

The release said that the researchers have deployed a remote-controlled atmospheric simulation chamber in Alaska, the Azores and in northeast Oklahoma. Called the Portable Ice Nucleation Experiment, or PINE, the system can mimic various natural processes and conduct traditional lab analysis.

Through the research, the researchers hope to find how many ice crystals are found in clouds in the Arctic Circle, helping determine how much sunlight clouds are reflecting or absorbing.

“The data generated with this device will mimic much more closely what happens in the atmosphere,” Bithi said in the release.

Officials said these tools will help be integrated into science teaching, developing an affordable and efficient way to measure the particles. The research can also be used to better understand cloud formation.

“If we know the properties and compositions, we can correlate how certain particles affect cloud formation positively or negatively,” Bhattacharia said in the release.

The US Department of Energy grant totaled around $4.7 million, according to the release, giving colleges and universities which are “underrepresented in DOE’s foundational climate, Earth and environmental science research investments” the chance to receive grants.

“These grants will help provide technical assistance to build capacity and achieve the goal of broadening institutional participation in DOE`s science investments,” the release said.

The research team is comprised of three professors and seven students. Each person on the team brings a unique set of qualities to the research.

“We all bring something of value to the table when we have our team meetings, there’s no redundancy, everyone has a specific area that they focus on, said Stephanie Simonsen, Environmental Science Graduate Student.” “We can collaborate and build off of each other and see how our team can put together a stronger data set at the end.”

The complexity of the research can sometimes cause challenges to arise in the research.

“It can be really challenging when you deal with small, small things, you know, when you have to scale down everything, know, the area or the amount of samples that you’re going to treat, it’s going to be really, really small in micro level, said Timothy Devadoss.” “So, your calculations, and everything gets really tough.

Overall, the goal is to combine education and research in the terms of primitive science.