Global warming may proceed faster and be more severe than previously predicted according to research about to be published in the scientific journal “Nature”. Reductions in airborne particle pollution, or aerosols, as air quality is improved, will amplify climate change by reducing the cooling effect due to aerosols and also by increasing the amount of carbon dioxide that remains in the atmosphere. Uncertainty about the magnitude of past and present cooling, however, means that we cannot be certain about the strength of future warming, which may exceed previous estimates.
Prof. Meinrat O. Andreae of the Max Planck Institute for Chemistry in Germany, Dr. Chris Jones from the Met Offices Hadley Centre for Climate Prediction and Research, and Prof. Peter Cox from the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology have studied the consequences of the cooling effect from man-made aerosols (tiny airborne particles) on present and future climate, and on the uptake of carbon dioxide CO2 by the land biosphere. Such aerosols have reduced the amount of the suns radiation that reaches the Earths surface, and thereby have offset some of the warming impact of greenhouse gases - such as carbon dioxide - which have warmed the global climate during the 20th century. However, their harmful effects on air quality and human health have led to clean air legislation requiring us to clean up our emissions.
This necessary reduction in aerosols will result in a reduction of their cooling effect and hence will accelerate global warming. Dr. Jones likens this to driving a car whilst pressing both the accelerator and the brake, “Now we are taking our foot off the brake, but we dont know how fast we will go. Because we dont know exactly how strong the aerosol cooling has been, we do not know how strong the greenhouse warming will be”.
Barnaby Smith | alfa
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