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Friday, June 5, 2009

A Cooling Haze caused by High Heat

Haze just off the Carolina Coast

Satellite and ground-based sensor data from a new study by researchers at the University of California, Berkeley indicate that sweltering summers can, paradoxically, lead to the temporary formation of a cooling haze in the Southeastern U.S. (negative feedback).

According to the EurekAlert article, manmade pollutants mix with the natural compounds emitted from forests and vegetation during the hot summer months, they form secondary aerosols that reflect light from the sun. Such aerosols may also contribute to the formation of clouds, which also reflect sunlight.

Why just the Southeast U.S.?

There is a known regional pattern of biogenic volatile organic compounds, such as natural hydrocarbons from plants and trees within this region, which increase exponentially when the temperature increases, according to lead author Allen Goldstein.

Based on their results, the authors of this study believe that climate models are likely underestimating the effects of organic aerosols.

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