Researchers find cooling effect of aerosols in cumulus and MSC clouds twice as high as thought

Posted: January 20, 2019 by oldbrew in atmosphere, Clouds, modelling, research
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Another possible factor to consider in the climate cause and effect puzzle.

An international team of researchers has found evidence that suggests the cooling effect of aerosols in cumulus and MSC clouds is twice as high as thought, reports Phys.org.

In their paper published in the journal Science, the group describes their analyses of data from NASA’s Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) database and what they found.

Global warming is very much in the news of late, as the planet continues to heat up. But one of the factors at play is very seldom mentioned—the role of clouds in cooling the planet.

They do so by reflecting heat from the sun back into space. But how much of the reflecting occurs due to water in the clouds and how much is due to aerosols?

This is what the researchers wanted to know, because many modern pollutants actually contribute aerosols to clouds. Many of the gritty elements that make their way into the air from coal-burning plants, for example, find their way into clouds. The researchers wondered if it were possible that such pollutants might actually be helping to cool the planet.

To find out, they tapped into MODIS, a database of information from satellites constantly circling the Earth, including, among other things, information on cloud cover. For their study, the researchers looked at data describing the Southern Oceans, from the equator to approximately 40°S—over the summers of 2014 to 2017.

The team then developed methodologies for deriving pertinent cloud information, such as water content versus aerosol content, and how much heat they were reflecting.

The researchers found that clouds containing more aerosols reflected more heat than prior estimates had suggested—more than twice as much. More specifically, they found that approximately three-quarters of the amount of heat reflected was due to aerosols.

They suggest that such a large percentage shows that the radiative cooling capacity of clouds is much more sensitive to the presence of aerosols than has been thought.

Full report here.

Comments
  1. Bloke down the pub says:

    So much of the C20th warming can be explained by a reduction in the amount of aerosols brought about by clean air acts. Who knew?

  2. cognog2 says:

    Are these scientists not aware that within a cloud you have the vapor (gaseous water) moving up due to buoyancy and condensed vapor (liquid) moving down due to density.?
    The upward movement of the vapor carries with it some 680 Watthrs./kg. of energy (Latent Heat) and the liquid/ ice very little . Surprisingly for some these two phases of water co-exist at the same temperature within these clouds.
    The net effect is that clouds transfer huge amounts of energy up towards space, cutting through any CO2 that may be in the way.
    As Cirrus clouds they radiate energy towards space, which is why the ice crystals grow dendritically.

    Playing around with Albedo and aerosol radiations may be of interest and valuable; but of minor consideration with respect to the above.

  3. Damian says:

    “Researchers find cooling effect of aerosols in cumulus and MSC clouds twice as high as thought”

    “They do so by reflecting heat from the sun back into space. But how much of the reflecting occurs due to water in the clouds and how much is due to aerosols? ”

    If the heat (radiation) has been reflected this is insolation and not cooling as the radiation never got to “warm” anything.

  4. oldbrew says:

    aerosols in cumulus and MSC clouds twice as high as thought

    Areosols twice as high, not the clouds themselves 😎

  5. dennisambler says:

    “as the planet continues to heat up.”

    Repeat after me, ad infinitum.

  6. stpaulchuck says:

    dennisambler says:
    January 20, 2019 at 5:50 pm
    —————
    that nonsense statement hit me too Dennis. It is a patent lie in respect to the last 20 years – the so-called ‘hiatus’.

  7. hunter says:

    Settled science, so don’t question anything, denier scum.
    🙄

  8. hunter says:

    Clouds are aersolized water.

  9. udoli says:

    Can this have any connection to cooling caused by galactic cosmic rays? The hypothesised cooling from cosmic rays is, I think, due to ionization of gas (not exactly the same thing as aerosols though acting as condensation nuclei)

  10. tom0mason says:

    “Many of the gritty elements that make their way into the air from coal-burning plants, for example, find their way into clouds.”

    Seems to be another anti-coal hit piece.

    They wouldn’t want to mention the vast amount of natural aerosols that are in the atmosphere — bacteria and viruses, salt from the oceans, soil dust, desert dust, and the huge impact aerosols from the forests have (see https://www.quantamagazine.org/forests-emerge-as-a-major-overlooked-climate-factor-20181009/ ).

  11. oldbrew says:

    Add forest fires and volcanoes to the list.

    Smoke aerosols sourced from biomass burning, especially from forest fires, constitute an important type of aerosol
    https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1352231018302127

    Also…
    Disastrous California wildfires emitted as much carbon dioxide as a year’s worth of electricity
    https://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2018/nov/30/calif-fires-emitted-much-co2-year-electricity/

  12. oldbrew says:

    Munich Conference: Leading Danish Astrophysicist Says Solar Activity Has Significant Impact On Global Climate
    By P Gosselin on 22. January 2019

    In the end, changes in solar activity lead to significant changes in the earth’s energy budget, and thus climate change, Svensmark believes. This explains why the Earth has seen “coolings and warmings of around 2°C repeatedly over the past 10,000 years.”

    He concludes:

    “The Sun became unusually active during the 20th Century and as a result part of the ‘global warming’ observed.”

    http://notrickszone.com/2019/01/22/munich-conference-leading-danish-astrophysicist-says-solar-activity-has-significant-impact-on-global-climate/

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