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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. 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,...
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