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      Aerosols, Climate, and the Hydrological Cycle

      1 , 1 , 2 , 3 , 4
      Science
      American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS)

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          Abstract

          Human activities are releasing tiny particles (aerosols) into the atmosphere. These human-made aerosols enhance scattering and absorption of solar radiation. They also produce brighter clouds that are less efficient at releasing precipitation. These in turn lead to large reductions in the amount of solar irradiance reaching Earth's surface, a corresponding increase in solar heating of the atmosphere, changes in the atmospheric temperature structure, suppression of rainfall, and less efficient removal of pollutants. These aerosol effects can lead to a weaker hydrological cycle, which connects directly to availability and quality of fresh water, a major environmental issue of the 21st century.

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          Most cited references43

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          Biomass burning in the tropics: impact on atmospheric chemistry and biogeochemical cycles.

          Biomass burning is widespread, especially in the tropics. It serves to clear land for shifting cultivation, to convert forests to agricultural and pastoral lands, and to remove dry vegetation in order to promote agricultural productivity and the growth of higher yield grasses. Furthermore, much agricultural waste and fuel wood is being combusted, particularly in developing countries. Biomass containing 2 to 5 petagrams of carbon is burned annually (1 petagram = 10(15) grams), producing large amounts of trace gases and aerosol particles that play important roles in atmospheric chemistry and climate. Emissions of carbon monoxide and methane by biomass burning affect the oxidation efficiency of the atmosphere by reacting with hydroxyl radicals, and emissions of nitric oxide and hydrocarbons lead to high ozone concentrations in the tropics during the dry season. Large quantities of smoke particles are produced as well, and these can serve as cloud condensation nuclei. These particles may thus substantially influence cloud microphysical and optical properties, an effect that could have repercussions for the radiation budget and the hydrological cycle in the tropics. Widespread burning may also disturb biogeochemical cycles, especially that of nitrogen. About 50 percent of the nitrogen in the biomass fuel can be released as molecular nitrogen. This pyrdenitrification process causes a sizable loss of fixed nitrogen in tropical ecosystems, in the range of 10 to 20 teragrams per year (1 teragram = 10(12) grams).
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            Pollution and the planetary albedo

            S Twomey (1974)
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              Suppression of rain and snow by urban and industrial air pollution

              Rosenfeld (2000)
              Direct evidence demonstrates that urban and industrial air pollution can completely shut off precipitation from clouds that have temperatures at their tops of about -10 degrees C over large areas. Satellite data reveal plumes of reduced cloud particle size and suppressed precipitation originating from major urban areas and from industrial facilities such as power plants. Measurements obtained by the Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission satellite reveal that both cloud droplet coalescence and ice precipitation formation are inhibited in polluted clouds.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                Science
                Science
                American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS)
                0036-8075
                1095-9203
                December 07 2001
                December 07 2001
                : 294
                : 5549
                : 2119-2124
                Affiliations
                [1 ]Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California at San Diego, CA 92093, USA.
                [2 ]Max-Planck-Institute for Chemistry, Mainz, Germany.
                [3 ]National Center for Atmospheric Research, Boulder, CO 80305, USA.
                [4 ]Institute of Earth Sciences, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Jerusalem, Israel.
                Article
                10.1126/science.1064034
                11739947
                a45a35ff-187b-402a-b24d-c1161a1c85d8
                © 2001
                History

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