We've updated our Privacy Policy to make it clearer how we use your personal data.

We use cookies to provide you with a better experience. You can read our Cookie Policy here.

Advertisement
Understanding the Climate Impact of Natural Atmospheric Particles
News

Understanding the Climate Impact of Natural Atmospheric Particles

Understanding the Climate Impact of Natural Atmospheric Particles
News

Understanding the Climate Impact of Natural Atmospheric Particles

Credit: Kamal J on Unsplash.
Read time:
 

Want a FREE PDF version of This News Story?

Complete the form below and we will email you a PDF version of "Understanding the Climate Impact of Natural Atmospheric Particles"

First Name*
Last Name*
Email Address*
Country*
Company Type*
Job Function*
Would you like to receive further email communication from Technology Networks?

Technology Networks Ltd. needs the contact information you provide to us to contact you about our products and services. You may unsubscribe from these communications at any time. For information on how to unsubscribe, as well as our privacy practices and commitment to protecting your privacy, check out our Privacy Policy

An international team of scientists, led by the University of Leeds, has quantified the relationship between natural sources of particles in the atmosphere and climate change.

Their study, published today in Nature Geoscience, shows that the cooling effect of natural atmospheric particles is greater during warmer years and could therefore slightly reduce the amount that temperatures rise as a result of climate change.  


Particles in the atmosphere can alter Earth’s climate by absorbing or reflecting sunlight. These particles are often produced by human activities, such as from cars and industry, but there are also naturally occurring particles.


The team combined atmospheric measurements with a computer model to map the effects of two natural particle sources: smoke from forest fires and the gases emitted by trees that can stick together to form tiny particles.


Study lead author Dr Catherine Scott, from the School of Earth and Environment at Leeds, said: “Natural particles can alter the climate, but they are also strongly controlled by it.


“As the Earth warms, plants release more volatile gases from their leaves - these are the gases that, for example, give pine forests a piney smell. Once in the air these gases can form tiny particles. More particles in the atmosphere reflect away the Sun’s energy, which helps to cool the planet.


“This cooling offsets some of the temperature rise and is known as a negative climate feedback. We can think of forests acting as giant air conditioners slightly reducing the warming due to greenhouse gas emissions.”


Study co-author Dominick Spracklen, Professor of Biosphere-Atmosphere Interactions at Leeds, said: “Overall the response of the climate to an initial warming is to amplify that warming, ie a positive feedback.


“This natural negative feedback might act to offset a small amount of warming due to climate change but it is not enough to counteract other strong positive feedbacks in the climate system. This means reductions in greenhouse gas emissions are still required to prevent dangerous levels of global warming.


“Our research highlights the need for these complex interactions to be well represented in climate models. The latest generation of models being used for future climate projections include more detail about the way that the atmosphere and the land surface interact than ever before – but it’s important that we can isolate the role that these processes are playing as the climate evolves.”

This article has been republished from materials provided by the University of Leeds. Note: material may have been edited for length and content. For further information, please contact the cited source.

Reference
Substantial large-scale feedbacks between natural aerosols and climate. C. E. Scott, S. R. Arnold, S. A. Monks, A. Asmi, P. Paasonen & D. V. Spracklen Nature Geoscience (2017) 04 December 2017.  doi:10.1038/s41561-017-0020-5.

Advertisement