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IEA Greenhouse Gas R&D Programme

Aerosols who needs them and back to square 1 for the climate modellers?

 I have read a fascinating article in Nature about the ability of trees to seed clouds. All the research I have seen to date suggests that if we act to reduce air pollution by scrubbing sulphur dioxide from power plants then we reduce the albedo effect of clouds and the earth heats up. This has in part been blamed for increasing temperatures in the Arctic. But new research suggests that a molecule made by trees can seed clouds. This then sets a new challenge for the climate modellers because they may have underestimated the role that clouds had in shaping the pre-industrial climate in their predictions. The work published in Nature suggest that it may have been cloudier in pre-industrial times than previously thought. Meaning that if this was the case then the masking effect, and in turn the warming effects of carbon dioxide, might have been overestimated by the climate modellers.

Isn't science mysterious and wonderful? But there is a quite fundamental issue here. Do trees emit these compounds in part because there is a benefit to them in making their own climate? Which brings in the old Gaia theory that Earth's life behaves as a single organism that tends to preserve itself. Now that's deep. But if it's real then we might need all the help we can get to tackle climate change in the future.

Intrigued then see:

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