Aerosol Processes of Climate Relevance Schematic

Schematic revealing aerosol processes of climate importance in the Arctic for polar night. Abbreviations stand for: INP– ice nucleating particles, IR– infrared. Red arrows show longwave radiation. Credit: © EERL

It’s clear that rising greenhouse gas emissions are the main chauffeur of global warming. On a regional level, a number of other elements are at play. That’s particularly true in the Arctic– a massive oceanic area around the North Pole that is warming two to three times faster than the remainder of the world. One repercussion of the melting of the Arctic ice cap is a decrease in albedo, which is the capacity of surface areas to show a particular amount of solar radiation. Earth’s brilliant surface areas like glaciers, snow, and clouds have a high reflectivity. As snow and ice decline, albedo reductions and more radiation is absorbed by the Earth, causing an increase in near-surface temperature.

The other local, yet much more complex aspect that researchers require to pay detailed attention to relates to how clouds and aerosols interact. Owing to this role, and more particularly to how they impact the quantity of solar radiation that reaches the Earth surface area, and the terrestrial radiation that leaves the Earth, aerosols are an important aspect in controling the environment and Arctic climate in particular.

” A lot of question marks”

In a paper published in Nature Climate Modification on February 8, 2021, Julia Schmale, the head of EPFL’s Extreme Environments Lab, informs the clinical community to the requirement for a better understanding of aerosol-related procedures. “How albedo is affected by ice is fairly well understood– there are recognized maximum and minimum values, for example,” states Schmale. “But when it concerns groups of aerosols, there are many variables to think about: will they reflect or take in light, will they form a cloud, are they natural or anthropogenic, will they stay regional or take a trip cross countries, and so on. There are a lot of concern marks out there, and we need to find the answers.” She worked on the paper with two coauthors: Paul Zieger and Annica M. L. Ekman, both from the Bolin Centre for Environment Research Study at Stockholm University.

She saw first-hand that the Arctic environment tends to alter fastest in the winter– despite there being no albedo during this period of 24- hour darkness. That would lift temperatures above the Arctic ice mass, however the process is extremely made complex due to the large variety of aerosol types and distinctions in their capability to show and absorb light. “Few observations have been made on this phenomenon because, in order to conduct research in the Arctic in the winter, you have to block off an icebreaker, researchers, and research study devices for the entire season,” states Schmale.

Improving weather condition models

Although many research explorations have actually currently been brought out in the Arctic, a lot remains to be checked out. One alternative might be to collect all the discoveries made so far on Arctic warming and utilize them to enhance existing weather designs. Our designs presently can’t tell us what kinds of aerosols contribute the most to environment modification, whether regional or anthropogenic,” states Schmale.

In their paper, the research group puts forth three steps that might be taken to get much better insight into the Arctic climate and the role played by aerosols. They point to the International Arctic Systems for Observing the Atmosphere (IASOA) program as an example; the IASOA coordinates the activities of specific Arctic observatories to provide a collective global network for Arctic atmospheric research study and operations. “We require to improve our environment designs since what’s taking place in the Arctic will eventually spread in other places.

Recommendation: “Aerosols in existing and future Arctic environment” by Julia Schmale, Paul Zieger and Annica M. L. Ekman, 8 February 2021, Nature Climate Change
DOI: 10.1038/ s41558-020-00969 -5

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