During my first ever visit to Southeast Asia, via Singapore, in 2009, a colleague casually remarked how the region and surrounding archipelago, colloquially referred to as the Maritime Continent, represented the greatest natural laboratory on the planet. It was a remarkable statement, which I blew off almost immediately. Having lived at the doorstep of the Arctic for five years in Alaska, and otherwise having conducted field research on five continents, I thought the statement audacious at best and foolhardy at worst. The planet consists of many diverse and special regional ecological and biogenic systems. Each is unique in its own right. Given the varying global sensitivities and response to a warming climate and increasing anthropogenic activity, the distinguishing of one region as being more unique than all others seemed wholly inappropriate. It didn’t take me too long, however, to realize how dreadfully wrong I was. Within the bounds of this special issue of Aerosol and Air Quality Research, I am confident that it will quickly become clear why Southeast Asia and its surrounding islands are so exceptionally compelling for physical study.
On behalf of my fellow guest editors, Professors Guey-Rong Sheu of the National Central University in Taiwan and Somporn Chantara of Chiang Mai University in Thailand, I am pleased to introduce Aerosol Impact on Physical, Chemical and Biological Processes in Southeast Asia and the Maritime Continent. The twenty-seven papers contained herein reflect new and innovative research characterizing this alluring region, originating from nine different countries, which notably includes China, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore and Taiwan as representatives of their home domain. In motivating this collection, our goal was to capture both the intriguing nature of the regional biogenic system and the diversity of ongoing research conducted by local scientists, including the active collaboration of international interests. We trust that you will agree that we have met and well exceeded this goal. For fellow scientists, this volume represents the state-of-the-art in understanding equatorial and tropical aerosol and chemical processes, and the confluence between pristine vegetated terrestrial ecosystems and encroaching urban industrial influences. For educators and civil interests, it is a practical introduction to the difficulties in reconciling regional biospheric sensitivities to climate change and increasing anthropogenic impact, and the challenges in developing and sustaining long-term measurements and multi-national partnerships.