Climate change, greenhouse gases and aerosols
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The surface temperature of the earth is controlled by the balance between the absorbed solar radiation and the emitted infrared radiation. During the past 150 years the amount of carbon dioxide in the earth’s atmosphere has increased from 280 parts per million to more than 380 parts per million on account of burning of fossil fuels. The higher absorption of infrared radiation by the atmosphere (on account of higher carbon dioxide) has resulted in an increase in the surface temperature of the earth. The burning of fossil fuels has also caused an increase in sulphate and soot aerosols in the atmosphere. Both these aerosols reduce the solar radiation incident at the earth surface. Hence the surface of the earth has cooled on account of increase in aerosols. The sulphate aerosols have also cooled the atmosphere but the soot aerosols, which absorb solar radiation, have heated the atmosphere. The net impact of increase in carbon dioxide and aerosols has been an increase in the surface temperature of the earth by 0.7 degrees centigrade in the past 100 years.
KeywordsGlobal warming aerosols soot climate models
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