It’s long been known that tiny particles can impact air quality greatly and cause a host of health problems. However, European scientists have discovered that these particles are also contributing to climate change.
Ari Asmi, the former coordinator for European Integrated Project on Aerosol Cloud Climate and Air Quality Interactions (EUCAARI) and currently a scientists in the physics department at the University of Helsinki has student how aerosols affect the levels of energy reaching the earth, as well as global temperatures.
Small particles in the atmosphere, ranging from sea salt to dust have a greater effect that most people realize. When dense enough, these particles have the ability to absorb light – as in the case of black smoke. Small particles can even make white clouds whiter, which in turn reflect light away from the surface and make the surface cooler.
Researchers have long known there is a direct correlation between aerosols and air quality. Researchers are still trying to get a handle on the complexity of particles effects on clouds, but they are certain they can cause damage to the climate and are now realizing that small particles need to be removed from the atmosphere because they block greenhouse gases, which stay in the atmosphere for hundreds of years.
Aerosol cooling is more powerful than researchers previously realized and is more sensitive to the amount of sulfur in the atmosphere. By 2100, the atmosphere will be incredibly sensitive to CO2 increases – which will only increase the rate of global warming.
The good news is that scientists have not reached a consensus about this theory.