Earths climate is being changed substantially by a buildup of atmospheric greenhouse gases, but a group of leading climate scientists contends the overall impact is not understood as well as it should be because data are too scarce on how much energy the planet reflects into space.
Reflectivity, or albedo, is largely governed by clouds and atmospheric particles called aerosols, but it is one of Earths least-understood properties, said Robert Charlson, a University of Washington atmospheric scientist. Yet research aimed at quantifying the effects of albedo and helping scientists understand how it could affect future climate change has been delayed or shelved altogether.
"The attention being paid to the greenhouse effect is warranted. But the changes to the energy budget of this planet dont just involve the enhanced greenhouse effect. They also involve aerosols and clouds," Charlson said. "If we dont understand the albedo-related effects, that is aerosols and clouds, then we cant understand the effects of greenhouse gases."
Vince Stricherz | EurekAlert!
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