Researchers have concluded for decades that smoke from wildfires subsides the cooling effects of clouds through absorption of light that the clouds under the aerosols should replicate.
Based on the new research, the smoke and cloud layers are nearer to each other than the first thought of. Because of their distance, the cloud becomes more reflective of light and hastens the cooling effects of a cloud.
Researchers from the University of Wyoming headed the study. They recognized that biomass smoke resulting from South Africa that accumulates over the southeastern part of Atlantic Ocean intensifies the illumination of low-level clouds.
According to the Department of Atmospheric Science UW professor and the Wyoming Excellence Chair in Climate Science Xiaohong Liu, if the particles change, so does the composition of the cloud. During the research, they found out that smoke comes down and blends with the clouds. The transformed clouds become more reflective of sunlight. Brighter clouds thwart the greenhouse effect and generate cooling.
During the fire season, South Africa’s biomass-burning aerosols are discharged into the atmosphere every year which starts from July to October. Usually, these are wildfires but some are purposely set up to clear lands for farming. The fires create massive smoke which can be seen on satellite images from the outer space.
The wind carries the smoke westward over the Atlantic Ocean rising the largest semi-permanent congregation of clouds in the world aloft. Clouds require “seeds” to develop and can be any small fleck around which cloud droplets condense. Aerosols are excellent for seeding clouds and with additional seeds; several small cloud droplets substitute lesser large droplets. These cumulatively rebound more light and expedite the cooling effect.
Liu mentioned that the new study has learned that aerosols that blended into the clouds serve as cloud condensation nuclei and escalate the brightness of stratocumulus clouds. The research team likewise aims to refine worldwide climate models by refining how such models regard for clouds and connecting with aerosols coming from various sources. Over the course, the team arranges to assess the magnitude the aerosol’s cooling effect on Earth.