Greenhouse gases might be the main culprits in the rapid warming of our planet, but particles in the air also play a part. Soot, dust, sulfate and other aerosols can both cool the atmosphere and warm it. Yet, nearly 30 years after the first report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, we still don’t really know how much aerosols influence the climate. These particles remain one of the greatest lingering sources of uncertainty.

According to Joyce E. Penner, a Ralph J. Cicerone Professor of Atmospheric Sciences in the Department of Climate and Space Sciences and Engineering, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA, researchers need coordinated action to determine the roles of aerosols on climate and thereby narrow the uncertainties in predictions of warming from greenhouse gases. In this article, he sets out priorities for a coordinated campaign of observations and modelling.

Soot, Sulfate, Dust and the Climate — Three Ways through the Fog

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