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Press release: Faster Climate Change Predicted as Air Quality Improves 30th June 2005

 

New research by a team from the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology, the Max Planck Institute for Chemistry in Germany, and the Met Office's Hadley Centre for Climate Prediction and Research shows that global warming may proceed faster and be more severe than previously predicted.

The study, published in the leading Scientific journal Nature this week concludes that reductions in airborne particle pollution, or aerosols, as air quality is improved, will amplify climate change by reducing the cooling effect due to aerosols and also by increasing the amount of carbon dioxide that remains in the atmosphere.

Peter Cox from the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology said this has important implications for the relationship between climate and the carbon cycle - i.e., the Earth's natural biosphere. Ocean and land based ecosystems presently absorb about half of our CO2 emissions, but the impact of climate change will be to reduce this natural buffering service. “Higher temperatures mean dead matter decays faster”, explains Professor Cox, “so if future warming is greater than expected, due to declining aerosol cooling, less CO2 will be taken up by the land, which will leave more CO2 in the atmosphere where it can add to greenhouse warming”.

 

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