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1.3.3. Cross-cut II: Aerosol climate and chemistry Extensive discussions of greenhouse warming during the last decade have made it clear to
 

Summary: 1.3.3. Cross-cut II: Aerosol climate and chemistry
Extensive discussions of greenhouse warming during the last decade have made it clear to
the public that Earth's energy balance is affected by the atmospheric concentration of
greenhouse gases. Planetary reflectivity, or albedo, is correspondingly important because it
determines how much of the incoming solar radiation is absorbed by the earth/atmosphere
system and how much is scattered back into space, but is considerably less well understood
by the public. If the atmosphere contains many suspended particles, these particles
(collectively called an aerosol) scatter sunlight back to space, cooling the planet. The
magnitude of this cooling depends on the chemical composition of the particles; non-
absorbing (white) particles scatter more sunlight than do partially absorbing (dark)
particles, thus producing a greater planetary cooling. Thus JISAO's aerosol efforts couple
across the climate and chemistry themes.
The UW and NOAA/PMEL have a rich history of aerosol studies. Those studies, however are
distributed across a wide range of aerosol problems spanning both observations and
modeling. It is difficult to summarize these cleanly and to delineate clearly the role played
by JISAO scientists. The following discussion attempts to provide an overview of the various
components of the aerosol problem being addressed by the UW and NOAA/PMEL.
The aerosol climate problem
The scientific community recognized more than 30 years ago that aerosol played a
potentially important role in climate. About 20 years ago, with the beginning of the IPCC

  

Source: Ackerman, Thomas P. - Department of Atmospheric Sciences, University of Washington at Seattle

 

Collections: Geosciences; Environmental Sciences and Ecology