Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Offsetting global warming: Molecule in Earth's atmosphere could 'cool the planet'

Date:
January 13, 2012
Source:
University of Manchester
Summary:
Scientists have shown that a newly discovered molecule in Earth's atmosphere has the potential to play a significant role in offsetting global warming by cooling the planet.

Researchers found that Criegee biradicals react more rapidly than first thought and will accelerate the formation of sulphate and nitrate in the atmosphere. These compounds will lead to aerosol formation and ultimately to cloud formation with the potential to cool the planet.
Credit: Sergey Tokarev / Fotolia

Scientists have shown that a newly discovered molecule in Earth's atmosphere has the potential to play a significant role in off-setting global warming by cooling the planet.

In a breakthrough paper published in Science, researchers from The University of Manchester, The University of Bristol and Sandia National Laboratories report the potentially revolutionary effects of Criegee biradicals.

These invisible chemical intermediates are powerful oxidisers of pollutants such as nitrogen dioxide and sulfur dioxide, produced by combustion, and can naturally clean up the atmosphere.

Although these chemical intermediates were hypothesised in the 1950s, it is only now that they have been detected. Scientists now believe that, with further research, these species could play a major role in off-setting climate change.

The detection of the Criegee biradical and measurement of how fast it reacts was made possible by a unique apparatus, designed by Sandia researchers, that uses light from a third-generation synchrotron facility, at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory's Advanced Light Source.

The intense, tunable light from the synchrotron allowed researchers to discern the formation and removal of different isomeric species -- molecules that contain the same atoms but arranged in different combinations.

The researchers found that the Criegee biradicals react more rapidly than first thought and will accelerate the formation of sulphate and nitrate in the atmosphere. These compounds will lead to aerosol formation and ultimately to cloud formation with the potential to cool the planet.

The formation of Criegee biradicals was first postulated by Rudolf Criegee in the 1950s. However, despite their importance, it has not been possible to directly study these important species in the laboratory.

In the last 100 years, Earth's average surface temperature increased by about 0.8 C with about two thirds of the increase occurring over just the last three decades.

Most countries have agreed that drastic cuts in greenhouse gas emissions are required, and that future global warming should be limited to below 2.0 C (3.6 F).

Dr Carl Percival, Reader in Atmospheric Chemistry at The University of Manchester and one of the authors of the paper, believes there could be significant research possibilities arising from the discovery of the Criegee biradicals.

He said: "Criegee radicals have been impossible to measure until this work carried out at the Advanced Light Source. We have been able to quantify how fast Criegee radicals react for the first time.

"Our results will have a significant impact on our understanding of the oxidising capacity of the atmosphere and have wide ranging implications for pollution and climate change.

"The main source of these Criegee biradicals does not depend on sunlight and so these processes take place throughout the day and night."

Professor Dudley Shallcross, Professor in Atmospheric Chemistry at The University of Bristol, added: "A significant ingredient required for the production of these Criegee biradicals comes from chemicals released quite naturally by plants, so natural ecosystems could be playing a significant role in off-setting warming."


Story Source:

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


Journal Reference:

  1. Oliver Welz, John D. Savee, David L. Osborn, Subith S. Vasu, Carl J. Percival, Dudley E. Shallcross, Craig A. Taatjes. Direct Kinetic Measurements of Criegee Intermediate (CH2OO) Formed by Reaction of CH2I with O2. Science, 2012; 335 (6065): 204-207 DOI: 10.1126/science.1213229

Cite This Page:

University of Manchester. "Offsetting global warming: Molecule in Earth's atmosphere could 'cool the planet'." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 13 January 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/01/120112142232.htm>.
University of Manchester. (2012, January 13). Offsetting global warming: Molecule in Earth's atmosphere could 'cool the planet'. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 28, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/01/120112142232.htm
University of Manchester. "Offsetting global warming: Molecule in Earth's atmosphere could 'cool the planet'." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/01/120112142232.htm (accessed August 28, 2014).

Share This




More Earth & Climate News

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Killer Amoeba Found in Louisiana Water System

Killer Amoeba Found in Louisiana Water System

AP (Aug. 28, 2014) State health officials say testing has confirmed the presence of a killer amoeba in a water system serving three St. John the Baptist Parish towns. (Aug. 28) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Scientists Have Figured Out Why Rocks Move In Death Valley

Scientists Have Figured Out Why Rocks Move In Death Valley

Newsy (Aug. 28, 2014) The mystery of the moving rocks in Death Valley, California, has finally been solved. Scientists are pointing to a combo of water, ice and wind. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Big Waves, Minor Flooding from Hurricane

Big Waves, Minor Flooding from Hurricane

AP (Aug. 27, 2014) Thundering surf spawned by Hurricane Marie pounded the Southern California coast Wednesday, causing minor flooding in a low-lying beach town. High surf warnings were posted for Los Angeles County south through Orange County. (Aug. 27) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Calif. Quake Underscores Need for Early Warning

Calif. Quake Underscores Need for Early Warning

AP (Aug. 26, 2014) Researchers at UC Berkeley are testing a prototype of an earthquake early warning system that California is pursuing years after places like Mexico and Japan already have them up and running. (August 26) 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:

More Coverage


Criegee Intermediates Found to Have Big Impact on Troposphere

Jan. 13, 2012 Scientists report direct measurements of reactions of a gas-phase Criegee intermediate using photoionization mass spectrometry. They found that oxidation of SO2 by Criegee intermediate is much faster ... read more
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