There is no denying the fact that pollutants coming out from diesel automobiles, coal-fired power plants, factories, and the burning of forests are major contributors to smog. The new research has suggested that these aerosols helps to cool the climate by blocking incoming solar radiation. The new study is suggesting that the efforts to clean up the air may cause an increase in warming. The team of researchers have also claimed that the earth would be 0.5 to 1.1 degree C (0.9 to 2 degrees F) warmer if that pollution were to suddenly disappear.
Lead author Bjørn H. Samset of Norway’s Center for International Climate Research said in an interview that since we’re trying to keep to a 1.5- or 2-degree target, then this is something we still need to keep in mind. He suggests that removing aerosols could have striking regional consequences by causing major changes in precipitation and other weather patterns in certain parts of the world. The findings in the research conveys that Aerosols don’t linger in the atmosphere for very long. The research suggests that places having severe air pollution are likely to experience some of the greatest effects if that pollution were to disappear. These places were to experience a strong increase in precipitation and extreme weather events.
It has been long known that some types of pollution actually help cool the climate. Aerosols like sulphate can reflect sun’s radiation away from the Earth. The world is taking several steps to counter pollution. With this, the scientists are figuring out how much extra warming might be expected if the pollution disappears. This is considered as critical information for strategizing ways to achieve 2-degree target.
Samset suggests that aerosols act as miniature clouds. They help in reflecting the sunlight back into space. If these aerosols surrounds the earth then lot sunlight would reflect back out and you would get cooling. His recent finding suggests that volume of human-created aerosols is so great that they have counteracted the effect of global warming to a certain extent.
Other research works have also supported the notion that aerosols have great influenced over temperatures. One of the published articles in Nature Geoscience has also suggested that about a third of all the warming that have occurred over land for past 50 years was masked by aerosol pollution. Some of the research works are also indicating that greenhouse gas emissions have had an even greater effect on the climate if there would not be any masked effect of air pollution.
One of the proposed method of geoengineering involves the usage of aerosols to cool the climate as it is not hazardous to human health. Some other proposed methods suggests drawing carbon dioxide back out of the atmosphere. Currently, there is no viable global solution is developed.
Lot of research need to be done in order to find a viable solution. These findings will help in informing the next generations of climate change.