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Aerosols make methane more potent - Air pollution linked more closely to climate concerns.
Nature News ^ | 29 October 2009 | Katharine Sanderson

Posted on 10/30/2009 6:12:16 PM PDT by neverdem

Aerosols' complicated influence on our climate just got more threatening: they could make methane a more potent greenhouse gas than previously realized, say climate modellers.

Drew Shindell, at NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies, New York, and colleagues ran a range of computerized models to show that methane's global warming potential is greater when combined with aerosols — atmospheric particles such as dust, sea salt, sulphates and black carbon.

The International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and treaties such as the Kyoto Protocol assume methane to be, tonne-for-tonne, 25 times more potent than carbon dioxide at warming the planet. But the interaction with aerosols bumps up methane's relative global warming potential (GWP) to about 33, though there is a lot of uncertainty around the exact figure. In the Kyoto Protocol, GWPs are used to govern emissions trading. "This study is saying those GWPs should be revisited because they're leaving out an important thing," says Shindell.

Shindell also thinks climate policy-makers need to pay much more attention to restricting short-lived pollutants, such as methane, carbon monoxide, volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and aerosols. This could create significant changes in the local and global climate quite quickly, he says, whereas the effects of efforts to reduce emissions of long-lived carbon dioxide will not be seen for many years. "The short-lived things are really powerful," he adds. The work is published in Science1.

The increased influence attributed to methane is interesting, says Frank Dentener, from the European Commission's Institute for Environment and Sustainability, Ispra, Italy. He points out that cutting methane emissions often doesn't cost anything and can actually end up making money — by collecting the gas to sell, or by saving emissions in making a process more efficient and cheaper.

Mixed-up models

Methane, aerosols and other short-lived pollutants have a complicated chemical relationship, only some of which Shindell's models could capture. For example, methane leads to increased formation of ozone in the troposphere, which can reduce agricultural yields. It is also eventually oxidized to carbon dioxide; or by other chemical reactions can form water vapour - also a greenhouse gas - in the stratosphere. In yet another example, methane's reaction with hydroxyl reduces the amount of that chemical available to create cooling sulphate aerosols.

The models don't yet completely take all the processes into account. But simply trying to couple ozone chemistry and aerosol chemistry like this is an advance, says Dentener. "Instead of looking at single components they look in much greater details at what emissions of these components will do to a whole sequence of things."

Shindell says that future long-term climate models should begin to include more of these local secondary processes. "We know these things happen in the atmosphere", says Shindell. "The current strategy of assuming [their effects] are zero is a poor choice."

Aerosols and short-lived gases aren't totally ignored. "The timing of this paper is excellent", says Greg Carmichael, a climate scientist at the University of Iowa in Iowa City. "There is growing awareness among the policy makers and the scientific communities that the coming period represents a key and important opportunity to link air and climate concerns." Even as recently as last week, scientists and policy makers met in Gothenburg, Sweden, at a workshop to discuss intermediate climate policies.

Dentener cautions that the calculations involved to work out new GWPs are "rather tricky". He would like to see other modellers tackle the same problem and reach a scientific consensus. But he adds that policy makers are starting to realize that there must be a balance between long-term and short-term strategies.

The negative and positive effects of air pollutants must be taken seriously, says Almut Arneth of Lund University in Sweden, who also writes in Science this week2. She says most assessments suggest that the cooling effect of sulphates at the moment outweighs the warming effect of black carbon. So legislating for the removal of air pollutants, particularly sulphates, would cause a rapid warming of the climate. "If we want to start developing really successful climate policies we've got to look at air pollution as well", she says.

Shindell calls for the IPCC to look at "not just the climate but the whole ecosystem and health impacts of dealing with these pollutants". This could help in both the near and long term, he says. "I'm hoping the next round of IPCC will be better. I still don't see a lot of emphasis on near-term solutions to climate." 



TOPICS: Crime/Corruption; Culture/Society; News/Current Events; Testing
KEYWORDS: aerosols; agw; airpollution; atmosphericchemistry; climatechange; globalwarming
More doubt in their climate models - good timing!
1 posted on 10/30/2009 6:12:17 PM PDT by neverdem
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To: neverdem

I didn’t even know that cows were using spray-on deodorant.


2 posted on 10/30/2009 6:14:33 PM PDT by JrsyJack (There's a little Jim Thompson in all of us)
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To: neverdem
The "debate" actually is over...and the idea that human emissions of carbon dioxide (or any other "greenhouse gas") will cause any significant degree of global warming has been categorically refuted and falsified. The empirically-measured change in the amount of energy radiating away from the Earth as a function of changes in sea surface temperature ...totally falsifies the IPCC climate models--and more importantly, completely falsifies the anthropogenic global warming hypothesis—total, categorical falsification, not simply invalidation of the alleged "proof" based on computer climate models: Categorical falsification of "greenhouse gas" AGW hypothesis
3 posted on 10/30/2009 6:18:20 PM PDT by sourcery (Those whom the gods would destroy they first make socialist...)
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To: neverdem

Burn that methane!

Put collectors on the cows, the humans, the dogs, the elephants, even the donkeys.


4 posted on 10/30/2009 6:21:15 PM PDT by Right Wing Assault (The Obama magic is fading.)
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To: neverdem

If this writer is so darned smart, how come he doesn’t know how to use an apostrophe?


5 posted on 10/30/2009 6:23:40 PM PDT by bboop (Tar and feathers -- good back then, good now)
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To: neverdem

Oh, nevermind, I didn’t read carefully ...


6 posted on 10/30/2009 6:24:10 PM PDT by bboop (Tar and feathers -- good back then, good now)
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To: neverdem

It ain’t as simple as Al Gore thought, huh.


7 posted on 10/30/2009 6:33:30 PM PDT by HiTech RedNeck (I am in America but not of America.)
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To: bboop

You owe him an apostrophe


8 posted on 10/30/2009 6:34:02 PM PDT by HiTech RedNeck (I am in America but not of America.)
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To: bboop

You owe him an apostrophe... i mean her


9 posted on 10/30/2009 6:34:20 PM PDT by HiTech RedNeck (I am in America but not of America.)
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To: neverdem

Fart in a Can, the latest climate killing hockey stick.


10 posted on 10/30/2009 6:35:08 PM PDT by This_far (Mandatory insurance! I thought it was about health care?)
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To: This_far

Took ten posts before someone read my mind...


11 posted on 10/30/2009 6:39:56 PM PDT by gov_bean_ counter (Is it too soon for real conservatives to launch a "We Tried to Warn You Tour"?)
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To: gov_bean_ counter
Took ten posts before someone read my mind...

Thanks! (Shoulda seen some of the ones I saw before yours....)

12 posted on 10/30/2009 6:50:06 PM PDT by This_far (Mandatory insurance! I thought it was about health care?)
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To: neverdem

Somebody’s believing his models a little too earnestly.

I’ve made the same mistake on occasion.


13 posted on 10/30/2009 7:01:19 PM PDT by Ole Okie (American)
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To: neverdem
say climate modellers.

Didn't really have to read any further than that.

14 posted on 10/30/2009 7:49:08 PM PDT by sionnsar (IranAzadi|5yst3m 0wn3d-it's N0t Y0ur5:SONY|Remember Neda Agha-Soltan|TV--it's NOT news you can trust)
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To: wardaddy; Joe Brower; Cannoneer No. 4; Criminal Number 18F; Dan from Michigan; Eaker; Jeff Head; ...
Send Fewer Students to College (College is the wrong choice for many students)

Losing Ground (Hispanic children fall behind their peers in cognitive skills quickly, a study finds)

[N. Korea] NKorea's latest missile tests failed: report(two crashed, two missed target, one dud)

NRA Sues Seattle Over Illegal Gun Ban

Some noteworthy articles about politics, foreign or military affairs, IMHO, FReepmail me if you want on or off my list.

15 posted on 10/30/2009 9:06:24 PM PDT by neverdem (Xin loi minh oi)
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To: neverdem

Thanks for the ping!


16 posted on 10/30/2009 9:45:28 PM PDT by Alamo-Girl
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To: neverdem; proud_yank; grey_whiskers; FrPR; enough_idiocy; Desdemona; rdl6989; Little Bill; ...
Thanx !

 


Beam me to Planet Gore !

17 posted on 10/31/2009 4:14:17 AM PDT by steelyourfaith (Limit all U.S. politicians to two terms: One in office and one in prison! to s)
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To: neverdem

Its really time to send the ‘climate modelers’ packing.

They have zero success predicting anything accurately.

Methane and CO2 are the buliding blocks of life itself. - Anyone who would even dream of tampering with them is a fool.


18 posted on 10/31/2009 11:41:28 AM PDT by editor-surveyor (The beginning of the O'Bomb-a administration looks a lot like the end of the Nixon administration)
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To: bboop
"If this writer is so darned smart, how come he doesn’t know how to use an apostrophe?"

He's apostrophically challenged.

19 posted on 10/31/2009 11:44:12 AM PDT by editor-surveyor (The beginning of the O'Bomb-a administration looks a lot like the end of the Nixon administration)
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To: Right Wing Assault
I thought the debate on aerosols was over in the 1970's. It was a big hoopla then, but they changed propellents (probably the same guy who invented the substitute for freon) and nothing else was said.

The Gore-ites are in their final throes of playing chicken little...desparate to be right as nature proves them wrong with every September-October blizzard and record cold temps around the world.

I am so sick of all this "enviromental" crap, if a product has "green" on it, I won't buy it; I refuse to watch any TV program railing about "global warming", and I won't even shop at places that are fanatical about "being green". I'm even starting to not like Kermit the Frog, and I might let my grass die on purpose...it's so green.

Someone tell gore to retire to one of his many energy-guzzling mansions and count his millions...the spotlight is growing dim.
20 posted on 10/31/2009 12:16:01 PM PDT by FrankR (To Congress: You cram it down our throats in '09, We'll shove it up your ass in '10!)
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To: FrankR

Aerosols can be tiny droplets of liquid suspended in the air or they can be tiny solid particles (such as tiny pieces of ash in smoke) suspended in the air. I think they are saying that the methane and either type liquid and/or solid aerosols hook up and cause whatever they say is happening. They aren’t talking about the propellant freon in this case.

Yeah I about turn green every time I see that word used in advertising. Butt-kissers to the eco-freaks and the brainwashed little kids. “But mommy, we NEED to be green! Don’t buy that product, buy THIS one. If you don’t, you HATE the earth!”


21 posted on 10/31/2009 12:34:34 PM PDT by Right Wing Assault (The Obama magic is fading.)
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To: neverdem

I don’t like to brag, but my methane aerosol is impressively potent.


22 posted on 10/31/2009 12:36:10 PM PDT by RichInOC (No! BAD Rich! (What'd I say?))
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To: Right Wing Assault
"They aren’t talking about the propellant freon in this case. "

Oh, I realize that...I was trying (awkwardly) to make the point about freon being regulated, mainly from the lobbying efforts of the guy who invented the replacement for freon. If you can get the government to put heavy regulations on the competitions' products (and not yours), you have a free run in the markets.

This will be another "by-product" in the environmentalists religion...using the "green movement" to stifle competition.

Now, I don't have a clue why I thought of that in the middle of a discussion on "aerosols", but I think it was the fact that they were bringing up an old scare factor again.

Please donate to the altzheimer's association....I forgot the address. ;^)
23 posted on 10/31/2009 3:14:27 PM PDT by FrankR (To Congress: You cram it down our throats in '09, We'll shove it up your ass in '10!)
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