Cleaning the Air Could Limit Short-Term Climate Warming
Posted in Research by Kate Archdeacon on March 7th, 2011
An assessment report (Integrated Assessment of Black Carbon and Tropospheric Ozone) released last week by the United Nations Environment Program and the World Meteorological Organization shows that reducing emissions of two common air pollutants — black carbon and gases integral to the production of ground-level ozone — could slow the rate of climate change markedly over the next half-century. For decades, scientists have known both substances harm human health. More recently, evidence has emerged showing the particles also affect climate, yet the magnitude of the impact has remained uncertain. Some studies have suggested reducing the pollutants could have a major and immediate climate impact, while others have shown the impact of such reductions would be minimal. Now a panel of some 70 scientists, led by New York City-based Goddard Institute for Space Studies climatologist Drew Shindell, has reviewed the best available science and concludes that just a handful of measures could yield major benefits in the next fifty years.
A NASA writer caught up with Shindell, who presented findings from the report in Washington, D.C. at a meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, to learn more.