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 September 21, 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 September 21, 2014).

Share This



More Earth & Climate News

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Climate Change Rally Held in India Ahead of UN Summit

Climate Change Rally Held in India Ahead of UN Summit

AFP (Sep. 20, 2014) Some 125 world leaders are expected to commit to action on climate change at a UN summit Tuesday called to inject momentum in struggling efforts to tackle global warming. Duration: 00:41 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
New Music With Recycled Instruments at Colombia Fest

New Music With Recycled Instruments at Colombia Fest

AFP (Sep. 19, 2014) Jars, bottles, caps and even a pizza box, recovered from the trash, were the elements used by four musical groups at the "RSFEST2014 Sonorities Recycling Festival", in Colombian city of Cali. Duration: 00:49 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Wildfires in CA Burn Forest Asunder

Raw: Wildfires in CA Burn Forest Asunder

AP (Sep. 18, 2014) An out-of-control Northern California wildfire has nearly 2,800 people from their homes as it continues to grow, authorities said Thursday. Authorities said a man has been arrested on suspicion of arson for starting the fire on Saturday. (Sept. 18) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
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

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