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Tiny airborne particles are a major cause of climate change (Warming vs. cooling effects)
EurekAlert! News ^ | July 18, 2006 | Staff

Posted on 07/20/2006 11:57:57 AM PDT by DaveLoneRanger

Rehovot, Israel -- July 17, 2006 – A scientist at the Weizmann Institute of Science and his colleagues caused a storm in the atmospheric community when they suggested a few years back that tiny airborne particles, known as aerosols, may be one of the main culprits causing climate change – having, on a local scale, an even greater impact than the greenhouse gases effect. Attempts to understand how these particles influence clouds have generated many uncertainties. A new paper by Dr. Ilan Koren of the Weizmann Institute Environmental Studies and Energy Research Department and Dr. Yoram Kauffman of the NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center, USA,* published in Science Express online, weaves together two opposing effects of atmospheric aerosols to provide a comprehensive picture of how they may be affecting our climate.

Cloud formation is dependent upon the presence of small amounts of aerosols such as sea salt and desert dust. These tiny particles serve as the seeds around which water vapor in the air condenses, forming tiny water droplets that rise as they release heat. As the small droplets rise, they collide and merge with larger droplets. When the droplets reach a critical size, gravity takes over, causing them to fall from the cloud in the form of rain.

One of the controversies surrounding the extent of aerosol impact on climate change is the duality of their influence. On the one hand, Koren and his colleagues previously found evidence to suggest that the extra seeds planted in the atmosphere by the emission of man-made aerosols (pollution, forest fires, and fuel combustion) lead to more, but smaller-sized, water droplets. The formation of larger water droplets by the collision process is less efficient and, therefore, rainfall is suppressed. The smaller droplets are lifted higher up into the atmosphere, creating larger and taller clouds that will persist longer. Not only does this alter the whole water cycle, but the increased cloud cover reflects more of the sun's radiation back into space, creating a local cooling effect on Earth.

But to complicate matters, Koren, in another study, showed that certain types of aerosols – those containing black carbon – can also decrease cloud cover, ultimately leading to a warming effect. This occurs as black carbon absorbs part of the sun's radiation, warming the surrounding atmosphere and reducing the difference in temperature between the Earth's surface and the upper atmosphere. This combination prevents atmospheric instability – the condition needed to form clouds and rain. A stable atmosphere means fewer clouds; fewer clouds mean less reflection of sunlight; less reflection of sunlight and absorption of radiation lead to warming.

Policy makers have argued that, in the bottom line, the warming effect of the greenhouse gases and the (mainly cooling) aerosol effect may balance each other out so that the net global climate change will be small. Koren argues that it is the local climate change that is problematic: Clouds may persist without releasing their rain over regions where they would normally precipitate, such as rainforests, and move to precipitate over regions where rain is not needed, such as oceans. Or the effect could lead to the warming up of cold and the cooling down of hot regions. These additional effects to the already problematic warming by greenhouse gases could have disastrous repercussions in the long run.

Also controversial is the question of how such tiny localized particles affect weather systems thousands of kilometers away from their sources. There is no doubt that aerosols do play a role, but the skeptics believe it is negligible compared to meteorological key players such as temperature, pressure, the amount of water vapor in the air, and wind strength.

What Koren needed was a way to separate meteorological from aerosol influences – something which was lacking in his previous studies. Together with Kauffman, he used a network of ground sensors (AERONET) to measure the effect of aerosol concentration on cloud cover. Radiation absorption is less affected by meteorology, so if the skeptics are right and meteorology is the main influence, then the correlation between aerosol absorption and cloud cover should have been seen in only a few circumstances. But this was not the case. They observed the duality effect on clouds: As total aerosols increase, cloud cover increases; and as radiation absorption by aerosols increases, cloud cover decreases – for all locations, for all seasons. Backed up with a mathematical analysis, it becomes harder to deny that it is, in fact, aerosols that have the major influence.

"We hope that this study has finally provided closure," says Koren. "Hopefully policy makers will start to tackle the issue of climate change from a different perspective, taking into account not only the global impact of aerosols and greenhouse gases, but local effects too."


TOPICS: Business/Economy; Constitution/Conservatism; Culture/Society; Extended News
KEYWORDS: aerosol; aerosols; alarmism; alarmists; climatechange; environment; environmentalists; globalwarming; globalwarmingping; globullwarming; greenhousegas; panic; particles; pollution; skyisfalling
We hope that this study has finally provided closure

Closure? Was there any doubt that aerosols played a role? The question is, which direction do they sway the mercury? I don't see any closure here:

As total aerosols increase, cloud cover increases; and as radiation absorption by aerosols increases, cloud cover decreases – for all locations, for all seasons.

Just a tip o the hat to both effects. No note on the overall net effect. Does global clearing and warming counteract global dimming and cooling, or vice versa?

1 posted on 07/20/2006 11:58:02 AM PDT by DaveLoneRanger
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To: texianyankee; JayB; ElkGroveDan; markman46; palmer; Bahbah; Paradox; FOG724; Mike Darancette; ...
(((GLOBAL WARMING PING)))



You have been pinged because of your interest in environmentalism, alarmist wackos, mainstream media doomsday hype, and other issues pertaining to global warming. Freep-mail me to get on or off. Please ping me to all note-worthy threads on global warming.

2 posted on 07/20/2006 11:58:28 AM PDT by DaveLoneRanger ("Good guys" aren't always "nice guys".)
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To: DaveLoneRanger
But this morning is was methane released from the sea floor that was causing it?

What to do? What to do?

3 posted on 07/20/2006 12:02:46 PM PDT by Izzy Dunne (Hello, I'm a TAGLINE virus. Please help me spread by copying me into YOUR tag line.)
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To: DaveLoneRanger

I predict that tomorrow's predictions will be exactly the same as they would have been had I not predicted this.


4 posted on 07/20/2006 12:04:03 PM PDT by Izzy Dunne (Hello, I'm a TAGLINE virus. Please help me spread by copying me into YOUR tag line.)
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To: DaveLoneRanger
Koren argues that it is the local climate change that is problematic: Clouds may persist without releasing their rain over regions where they would normally precipitate, such as rainforests, and move to precipitate over regions where rain is not needed, such as oceans.

Or not. Or the change could be beneficial.

Hopefully policy makers will start to tackle the issue of climate change from a different perspective, taking into account not only the global impact of aerosols and greenhouse gases, but local effects too.

Really? Just what policies should these "policy makers" make, based on such nebulous findings?

Wait, don't tell me, I already know the answer:


5 posted on 07/20/2006 12:08:02 PM PDT by ccmay (Too much Law; not enough Order)
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To: DaveLoneRanger

So when do we carbon black out the sun? We need a giant "blue blocker" between us and the sun... then they will all moan about global cooling...


6 posted on 07/20/2006 12:10:11 PM PDT by MD_Willington_1976
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To: DaveLoneRanger

Global warming/cooling is due to changes in the sun's output. To expect it to be constant, never changing, would be foolish.


7 posted on 07/20/2006 12:15:50 PM PDT by Voltage
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To: DaveLoneRanger

I'm going to go out on a limb here and predict that this is the first shot in the coming war against Diesel engines. Diesel engines emit black carbon in their exhaust.


8 posted on 07/20/2006 12:16:50 PM PDT by TChris (Banning DDT wasn't about birds. It was about power.)
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To: Izzy Dunne

I am about to cause some global warming myself after that roast beef sandwich i just ate....


9 posted on 07/20/2006 12:18:54 PM PDT by MAD-AS-HELL (Put a mirror to the face of the republican party and all you'll see is a Donkey.)
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To: Izzy Dunne

Is that a real thread? I didn't see it.


10 posted on 07/20/2006 12:23:04 PM PDT by DaveLoneRanger ("Good guys" aren't always "nice guys".)
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To: DaveLoneRanger

Can I get on the envirowacko, chicken little ping list?


11 posted on 07/20/2006 12:44:43 PM PDT by cardinal4 (America, despite the usual suspects, stands firmly with Israel..)
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To: DaveLoneRanger

I don't know if it's a thread, but methane is a potent green-house gas, and there is a lot of it stored in certain sea-bottom formations as well as in permafrost. There has been speculation in recent years that this stored methane could be released as a result of temperature changes, and could have significant impacts...


12 posted on 07/20/2006 12:45:52 PM PDT by A. Goodwin
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To: TChris

I'm going to go out on a limb here and predict that this is the first shot in the coming war against Diesel engines. Diesel engines emit black carbon in their exhaust.




I have to say NEGATIVE! ,, the soot seen in diesel exhaust is from partially burned sulfur in the fuel , when you burn low/no sulfur fuel you get none of the smoke.. New diesel fuel regs are going into effect... As for gasoline engines in many parts of the country the exhaust is actually cleaner than the air entering the engine when you're talking about ULEV or ZEV vehicles... I'm waiting for electricity providers to offer reduced prices overnight on what would otherwise be wasted electric production for the creation of hydrogen via electrolysis and to charge batteries ... they offer such reduced rates for industrial users and for streetlighting.. the change to digital metering is a prerequisite and new low cost digital meters are now available..

It seems obvious that sun output is the main determinant of heating on the surface ... it would also seem to me that as heat increases so does evaporation and cloud formation making for a self regulating temp control for the most part.. We are MUCH cleaner now than in the 1800's when everyone burned coal and trash, forest fires went unchecked and so on.. what effect that change has on reflecting sunlight away from the planet is unknown.. this subject will continue to be a source of disagreement and speculation as long as there are gov't grants to be had by those doing the studying..


13 posted on 07/20/2006 1:17:39 PM PDT by Neidermeyer
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To: DaveLoneRanger
Is that a real thread?

Yup:
Gas escaping from ocean floor may drive global warming.

14 posted on 07/20/2006 1:17:43 PM PDT by Izzy Dunne (Hello, I'm a TAGLINE virus. Please help me spread by copying me into YOUR tag line.)
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To: A. Goodwin

I don't know if it's a thread, but methane is a potent green-house gas, and there is a lot of it stored in certain sea-bottom formations as well as in permafrost. There has been speculation in recent years that this stored methane could be released as a result of temperature changes, and could have significant impacts...




I'll take this opportunity to dispel a popular myth ,, gasoline/oil IS NOT old dinosaur and plant remains ,, the universe has immense clouds of methane .. ie. HYDROCARBONS .. the undersea methane , natural gas , oil and so on is condensed methane from the formation of the planet altered by heat pressure and time into several slightly different forms... BTW "perfect" gasoline is iso-octo-heptane ..


15 posted on 07/20/2006 1:22:53 PM PDT by Neidermeyer
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To: DaveLoneRanger

I believe that the deposition of dark dust particles is one of the main reasons why low-altitude glaciers (near human settlement) are shrinking, while high-altitude glaciers (in uninhabited areas) are not.


16 posted on 07/20/2006 1:30:50 PM PDT by expatpat
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To: DaveLoneRanger

Enviroweenies screaming about our charcoal grills - countdown commensing: 10, 9, 8...


17 posted on 07/20/2006 1:35:43 PM PDT by Ladysmith ((NRA, SAS) Gun owners have illustrated rights are individual and can be protected by individuals.)
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To: Izzy Dunne
But this morning is was methane released from the sea floor that was causing it?

What to do? What to do?

Keep learning.

As you pointed out, and should be obvious to people working in the field we have amazingly little solid knowledge about all the factors that effect the climate even on a local and regional scale.

The comments being made about global warming are absurdly wild guesses and the computer models don't pass such obvious tests as being able to predict past known climate events.

The global warming theorists take a tiny number of the major variables, and based on a data over a relatively tiny period of time, try to predict changes in the global climate.

Our global climate may be warming, although so far it's a rather slight and short trend. It may also be a short bump in a generally cooling trend. We don't know. We don't have anything resembling a good enough understanding to make a remotely valid guess.

It's humbling, but it's true.

Researchers point out that CO2 levels in the atmosphere appear to be the highest they have been in hundreds of thousands of years. However, if they go back millions of years the atmospheric CO2 levels were MUCH higher than they are now, and didn't drop to these relatively low levels until something like 6 or 7 hundred million years ago.

Why did the atmospheric CO2 levels change so drastically? We don't know.

Mankind does not like not knowing, and has a long and colorful history concocting prophecies of our own doom and often doing some incredibly stupid and harmful things with the intent of avoiding imaginary problems.

I find it especially strange that the same political groups that will ignore real, demonstrable threats of danger from other people and will delay and undermine any efforts to deal with those people at the same time insist that there is a need for instant actions against vague fears over things they don't understand.

18 posted on 07/20/2006 1:43:29 PM PDT by untrained skeptic
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To: untrained skeptic
We don't have anything resembling a good enough understanding to make a remotely valid guess.

Which is the worst place of all to make decisions from.

Actually, we do have a reasonably good understanding that there is a non-constant nuclear furnace in the vicinity (astronomically speaking), that is throwing more variables into the mix. But that isn't mentioned in a large majority of GW bilge.

The plain fact is, I think it's driven by money. Ask for research money to study the solar output, and you'll get a blank stare. But ask for research money to study cattle phartes, because they're killing us, and people are listening.

19 posted on 07/20/2006 2:03:36 PM PDT by Izzy Dunne (Hello, I'm a TAGLINE virus. Please help me spread by copying me into YOUR tag line.)
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To: Izzy Dunne
Research money, arrogance, and attention from hollywood and the elite may drive the researchers, but that's not where the real money is. It's in the lawsuits.

Environmental lawyers made an incredible killing during the Clinton administration. The EPA under Clinton did broad policy changes by "reinterpreting" the environmental laws passed by congress.

The result were all kinds of companies that had been operating within the law for a very long time suddenly found themselves in violation of the law according to EPA regulations, and not only that we were told that they had been doing it for a very long time and had been getting away with it! When some of their most obvious overreaches of the law came to likely the administration actually demanded that COngress amend the law to match what the EPA was doing.

Bush has don a lot to clean up that mess at the EPA so that the environment receives reasonable protections as mandated under the laws passed by congress, while putting an end to most of the opportunistic lawsuits.

This has resulted in a lot of pissed off "environmentalist" power brokers and lawyers who can not longer extort companies under the guise of the law. It also resulted in a lot of stories in the leftist media about how Bush left a lot of horrible corporations off the hook for their "crimes".

Giving the EPA the power to regulate CO2 opens up a huge new market for law suits. The lawyers can rely on the hype and misinformation surrounding global warming to delude jurors, and they can present the argument that these horrible corporations have been getting away with doing this horrible thing for decades and they need to be punished.

These lawyers don't even have to win more than a small percentage of the cases. If they can get a couple wins and get some big companies to start settling to avoid the legal costs and the risks of losing a case to an emotional jury, they stand to make hundreds of millions.

20 posted on 07/20/2006 3:01:03 PM PDT by untrained skeptic
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To: Izzy Dunne

The biggest sources of methane are cows and termites and methane is a stronger greenhouse gas than CO2. So now what?

I'd like to throw this one in for them to chew on: How do they know that CO2 increase isn't due to deforestation of the tropics. Replacing rainforest with farms is a poor tradeoff for CO2 uptake.

Not only that, according to all the climate history, etc. the earth was actually much warmer for most of the time than it is now. We're actually going through a cool spell. Why should they object to it getting back to *normal*? I mean isn't that when all the oil and coal deposits were laid down? Shouldn't we welcome the chance to replenish them? Or have it warmer so we don't need to burn fossil fuels for heat and not use them up? Or have longer growing seasons so we could produce more food to feed the starving third world population?

One could have so much fun with a global warming enviro-weenie. I'm waiting for the chance.


21 posted on 07/20/2006 3:20:05 PM PDT by metmom (Welfare was never meant to be a career choice.)
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To: MD_Willington_1976; DaveLoneRanger

I believe there was a thread posted by Dave that discussed that very kind of idea. I don't recall the name, maybe Dave remembers it?


22 posted on 07/20/2006 3:22:23 PM PDT by metmom (Welfare was never meant to be a career choice.)
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To: untrained skeptic; Izzy Dunne
The comments being made about global warming are absurdly wild guesses and the computer models don't pass such obvious tests as being able to predict past known climate events.

Ha, you ever see the computer forecast models for hurricane tracks? That can give you an idea of how accurate long term climate prediction is.

23 posted on 07/20/2006 3:26:46 PM PDT by metmom (Welfare was never meant to be a career choice.)
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To: DaveLoneRanger
...by the emission of man-made aerosols (pollution, forest fires, and fuel combustion)...

Forest fires are man-made, except for the ones by lightning strike.

-PJ

24 posted on 07/20/2006 3:33:07 PM PDT by Political Junkie Too (It's still not safe to vote Democrat.)
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To: MD_Willington_1976; metmom
Best bet is keyword: globaldimming.
25 posted on 07/20/2006 3:50:42 PM PDT by DaveLoneRanger ("Good guys" aren't always "nice guys".)
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To: metmom
Ha, you ever see the computer forecast models for hurricane tracks? That can give you an idea of how accurate long term climate prediction is.

And that's a really easy problem. Once a hurricane has formed it is fairly predictable with models derived from fluid dynamics and it generally follows the steering currents (if there are any).

The much harder problem is predicting when hurricanes form or, for that matter, when any convection initiates. Models are truly awful at that stuff. And to top it off, the models used by the global warming alarmists have such lousy resolution they don't bother even trying to predict that part of the weather, instead fudging it with a couple of parameters with values chosen by their political agenda.

26 posted on 07/20/2006 6:20:24 PM PDT by palmer (Money problems do not come from a lack of money, but from living an excessive, unrealistic lifestyle)
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To: palmer
And that's a really easy problem. Once a hurricane has formed it is fairly predictable with models derived from fluid dynamics and it generally follows the steering currents (if there are any).

True. Nevertheless, if you follow the computer models for predicting the hurricanes tracks, sometimes it looks like a bowl of spaghetti. I usually follow the ones on weather underground. It's interesting to watch how they vary and then come together generally just before landfall.

27 posted on 07/20/2006 8:11:47 PM PDT by metmom (Welfare was never meant to be a career choice.)
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To: DaveLoneRanger
This will save us...
28 posted on 07/20/2006 8:12:08 PM PDT by StAnDeliver ("Look, I'm already bitter and twisted enough today as it is, don't you start now!" -- Canard)
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To: DaveLoneRanger
Global Warming by man is a TOTAL FRAUD! This explains the cooling that the junk scientists won't tell you about.

sh column generated by the eruption of Mount Pinatubo, a volcano in the Philippines Luzon volcanic arc, on June 12, 1991. The climactic eruption of Mount Pinatubo occurred three days later on June 15, 1991, and was one of the largest eruptions of this century. The climactic event lasted about 9 hours and erupted over a cubic mile of rock material. It injected a 20- million ton sulfur dioxide cloud into the stratosphere to an altitude of more than 20 miles. The climactic Pinatubo cloud was the largest sulfur dioxide cloud ever observed in the stratosphere since the beginning of such observations by satellites in 1978. It caused what is believed to be the largest aerosol disturbance of the stratosphere this century, although smaller than the estimated disturbances from the eruptions of Tambora in 1815 and Krakatau in 1883. Sulfate aerosol formed in the stratosphere from sulfur dioxide in the Pinatubo cloud increased the reflection of radiation from the Sun back into space. Consequently, the Earth's surface cooled in the three years following the eruption, by as much as 1.3 degrees ( Fahrenheit scale) at the height of the effect. The sulfate aerosols also accelerated chemical reactions that, together with increased stratospheric chlorine levels from man-made chlorofluorocarbon (CFC) pollution, destroyed ozone and led to the lowest ozone levels ever recorded to date in the stratosphere.


29 posted on 07/20/2006 8:26:49 PM PDT by John Lenin
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To: metmom
Ha, you ever see the computer forecast models for hurricane tracks? That can give you an idea of how accurate long term climate prediction is.

Yep, even over a period of days when dealing with conditions in a limited area our ability to predict the path such a storm will take breaks down pretty quickly, and has been closely researched and monitored for decades.

30 posted on 07/20/2006 8:31:40 PM PDT by untrained skeptic
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To: John Lenin

Similar thing happened after Krakatoa.


31 posted on 07/20/2006 8:47:15 PM PDT by metmom (Welfare was never meant to be a career choice.)
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To: metmom

Predicting climate change is like figuring out how the universe was formed. Maybe in a few hundred years ...


32 posted on 07/20/2006 8:53:36 PM PDT by John Lenin
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To: John Lenin

The post-Pinatubo eruption cooling effect lasted, at most, 3 years.


33 posted on 07/21/2006 10:42:25 AM PDT by cogitator
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To: cogitator
So it's safe to assume that any temperature change in the last 15 years should note this but I doubt they are factored into the equation.
34 posted on 07/21/2006 10:44:56 AM PDT by John Lenin
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To: John Lenin
So it's safe to assume that any temperature change in the last 15 years should note this but I doubt they are factored into the equation.

Most high-resolution temperature records for the period will show the Pinatubo cooling signal; it can even be seen in the CO2 record, as (for reasons that are not clear) the growth rate of CO2 in the atmosphere briefly slowed afte the eruption.

35 posted on 07/21/2006 10:51:33 AM PDT by cogitator
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To: cogitator

It also allows junk science to play around with the warming theory.


36 posted on 07/21/2006 10:58:24 AM PDT by John Lenin
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