By Deborah Zabarenko | Reuters
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Asian pollution from Asian power plants, cooking and heating could create summer hot spots in the central United States and southern Europe by mid-century, U.S. climate scientists reported on Thursday.
Unlike the long-lived greenhouse gas carbon dioxide, the particle and gas pollution cited in this report only stays in the air for a few days or weeks but its warming effect on the climate half a world away could last for decades, the scientists said.
“We found that these short-lived pollutants have a greater influence on the Earth’s climate throughout the 21st century than previously thought,” said Hiram “Chip” Levy of the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
“By 2050, two of the three climate models we use found that changes in short-lived pollutants will contribute 20 percent of the predicted global warming.”
By 2100, that figure goes up to 25 percent, Levy said in a telephone briefing.
The short-lived pollution that can cause long-term warming comes from soot, also known as the black carbon particles that result from fires, and sulfate particles, which are emitted by power plants. Soot particles are dark and absorb heat; sulfates are light and reflect heat, actually cooling things down.
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