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  • If just 25% of U.S. families used 10 fewer plastic bags a month, we would save over 2.5 billion bags a year.
  • Every year we throw away 24 million tons of leaves and grass. Leaves alone account for 75% of our solid waste in the fall.
  • Over 100 pesticide ingredients are suspected to cause birth defects, cancer, and gene mutations.
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  • About 1% of U.S. landfill space is full of disposable diapers, which take 500 years to decompose.
  • Glass produced from recycled glass instead of raw materials reduces related air pollution by 20%, and water pollution by 50%.
  • Homeowners use up to 10 times more toxic chemicals per acre than farmers.
  • By turning down your central heating thermostat one degree, fuel consumption is cut by as much as 10%.
  • One ton of carbon dioxide that is released in the air can be prevented by replacing every 75 watt light bulbs with energy efficient bulbs.
  • The uncontrolled fishing that is allowed has reduced the amount of commercial species. Some species, up to one-tenth of their original population.
  • Already over half of the world's tropical forests have been lost.
  • The garbage in a landfill stays for a for about 30 years.
  • Every ton of paper that is recycled saves 17 trees.
  • Earth is 2/3 water. but all the fresh water streams only represent one hundredth of one percent.
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  • Computers pose an environmental threat because much of the material that makes them up is hazardous. A typical monitor contains 4-5 pounds of lead.
  • One gallon of motor oil can contaminate up to 2 million gallons of water.
  • Agriculture absorbs 74% of all water taken by humans from rivers, lakes, aquifers and wetlands against 18% for industry and 8% for municipalities.

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Aerosols and soot

Aerosols and soot

Global dimming, a gradual reduction in the amount of global direct irradiance at the Earth’s surface, has partially counteracted global warming from 1960 to the present.[51] The main cause of this dimming is aerosols produced by volcanoes and pollutants. These aerosols exert a cooling effect by increasing the reflection of incoming sunlight. The effects of the products of fossil fuel combustion—CO2 and aerosols—have largely offset one another in recent decades, so that net warming has been due to the increase in non-CO2 greenhouse gases such as methane.[52] Radiative forcing due to aerosols is temporally limited due to wet deposition which causes aerosols to have an atmospheric lifetime of one week. Carbon dioxide has a lifetime of a century or more, and as such, changes in aerosol concentrations will only delay climate changes due to carbon dioxide.[53]

In addition to their direct effect by scattering and absorbing solar radiation, aerosols have indirect effects on the radiation budget.[54] Sulfate aerosols act as cloud condensation nuclei and thus lead to clouds that have more and smaller cloud droplets. These clouds reflect solar radiation more efficiently than clouds with fewer and larger droplets.[55] This effect also causes droplets to be of more uniform size, which reduces growth of raindrops and makes the cloud more reflective to incoming sunlight.[56] Indirect effects are most noticeable in marine stratiform clouds, and have very little radiative effect on convective clouds. Aerosols, particularly indirect effects, represent the largest uncertainty in radiative forcing.[57]

Soot may cool or warm the surface, depending on whether it is airborne or deposited. Atmospheric soot aerosols directly absorb solar radiation, which heats the atmosphere and cools the surface. In isolated areas with high soot production, such as rural India, as much as 50% of surface warming due to greenhouse gases may be masked by atmospheric brown clouds.[58] Atmospheric soot always contributes additional warming to the climate system. When deposited, especially on glaciers or on ice in arctic regions, the lower surface albedo can also directly heat the surface.[59] The influences of aerosols, including black carbon, are most pronounced in the tropics and sub-tropics, particularly in Asia, while the effects of greenhouse gases are dominant in the extratropics and southern hemisphere.
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