Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Aerosols May Have High Impact On Rainfall, Climate Change

Date:
February 23, 2009
Source:
CSIRO Australia
Summary:
Aerosols may have a greater impact on patterns of Australian rainfall and future climate change than previously thought, according to a leading atmospheric scientist.

Aerosols may have a greater impact on patterns of Australian rainfall and future climate change than previously thought, according to leading atmospheric scientist, CSIRO’s Dr Leon Rotstayn.
Credit: iStockphoto/Georgios Alexandris

Aerosols may have a greater impact on patterns of Australian rainfall and future climate change than previously thought, according to leading atmospheric scientist, CSIRO’s Dr Leon Rotstayn.

“We have identified that the extensive pollution haze emanating from Asia may be re-shaping rainfall patterns in northern Australia but we wonder what impact natural and human-generated aerosols are having across the rest of the country,” Dr Rotstayn said.

Aerosols are fine particles suspended in the atmosphere. Sources of human-generated aerosols include industry, motor vehicles and vegetation burning. Natural sources include volcanoes, dust storms and ocean plankton. Human-generated aerosols have long been known to exert a cooling effect on climate. This has partly masked the warming effect of increasing greenhouse gases. As aerosol pollution is predicted to decrease over the next few decades, unmasking of the greenhouse effect may lead to accelerated global warming.

However, in an address February 13 to the International Conference on Southern Hemisphere Meteorology and Oceanography in Melbourne, Dr Rotstayn said aerosols are much more than a 'negative greenhouse gas' because they can actively force changes in winds and ocean currents by altering the distribution of solar heating at the earth’s surface.

“Recent climate modelling at CSIRO shows that there may be important effects on Australian climate due to aerosol pollution from the Northern Hemisphere. These include an increase of rainfall in north-western Australia, and an increase of air pressure over southern Australia, which may have contributed to less rainfall there.

“New simulations with the CSIRO climate model also show big improvements in the simulation of El Niño and the associated natural rainfall variability over eastern Australia, when natural and human-generated aerosols are included in the model. Natural aerosol includes Australian dust, which may be the key factor that improved our simulation. A realistic simulation of natural rainfall variability is essential if a climate model is to be used to improve our understanding of Australian rainfall changes.

Dr Rotstayn said that further research into how aerosols are influencing climate and rainfall patterns across Australia is critical to scientists’ ability to more accurately predict the longer-term effects of climate change.

“It is crucial to quantify the relative roles of different drivers of recent Australian rainfall changes. A rainfall decline attributed to natural variability will be a passing phenomenon, and changes forced by human-generated aerosols are likely to be more short-term than changes forced by increasing greenhouse gases. The implications for decision makers will be very different, depending on whether the drivers are long-term or short-term,” Dr Rotstayn said.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by CSIRO Australia. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

CSIRO Australia. "Aerosols May Have High Impact On Rainfall, Climate Change." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 23 February 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/02/090212093653.htm>.
CSIRO Australia. (2009, February 23). Aerosols May Have High Impact On Rainfall, Climate Change. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 18, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/02/090212093653.htm
CSIRO Australia. "Aerosols May Have High Impact On Rainfall, Climate Change." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/02/090212093653.htm (accessed September 18, 2014).

Share This



More Earth & Climate News

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Raw: Elephant Undergoes Surgery in Tbilisi Zoo

Raw: Elephant Undergoes Surgery in Tbilisi Zoo

AP (Sep. 18, 2014) — Grand the elephant has successfully undergone surgery to remove a portion of infected tusk at Tbilisi Zoo in Georgia. British veterinary surgeons used an electric drill to extract the infected piece. (Sept. 18) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Scientists Examine Colossal Squid

Raw: Scientists Examine Colossal Squid

AP (Sep. 16, 2014) — Squid experts in New Zealand thawed and examined an unusual catch on Tuesday: a colossal squid. It was captured in Antarctica's remote Ross Sea in December last year and has been frozen for eight months. (Sept. 16) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Man Floats for 31 Hours in Gulf Waters

Man Floats for 31 Hours in Gulf Waters

AP (Sep. 16, 2014) — A Texas man is lucky to be alive after he and three others floated for more than a day in the Gulf of Mexico when their boat sank during a fishing trip. (Sept. 16) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Researchers Explore Shipwrecks Off Calif. Coast

Researchers Explore Shipwrecks Off Calif. Coast

AP (Sep. 16, 2014) — Federal researchers are exploring more than a dozen underwater sites where they believe ships sank in the treacherous waters west of San Francisco in the decades following the Gold Rush. (Sept. 16) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins