Cutting carbon concentrations can prevent droughtMarch 25th, 2011 - 3:46 pm ICT by IANS
Washington, March 25 (IANS) Reducing carbon concentrations would have a beneficial spin-off — help prevent droughts caused by global warming.
New research from Carnegie Global Ecology scientists Long Cao and Ken Caldeira explains why climates are wetter when atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) concentrations are decreasing.
Cao and Caldeira’s new work shows this precipitation increase is due to the heat-trapping property of the greenhouse gas CO2, reports the journal Geophysical Research Letters.
CO2 traps heat in the middle of the atmosphere. This warm air in the higher levels tends to prevent the rising air motions that create thunderstorms and rainfall.
As a result, an increase in the atmospheric concentration of CO2 tends to suppress precipitation. Similarly, a decrease in the atmospheric concentration of CO2 tends to increase precipitation, said a Carnegie statement.
The results of this study show that cutting the concentration of precipitation-suppressing CO2 would increase global precipitation.
This is important because scientists are concerned that unchecked global warming could cause already dry areas to get drier. Global warming may also cause wet areas to get wetter.
“This study shows that the climate is going to be drier on the way up and wetter on the way down,” Caldeira said.
“Proposals to cool the earth using geo-engineering tools to reflect sunlight back to space would not cause a similar pulse of wetness,” he added.
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Tags: atmospheric carbon dioxide, atmospheric concentration, cao, climates, co2 concentrations, drought, droughts, dry areas, engineering tools, gas co2, geophysical research letters, global warming, greenhouse gas, journal geophysical research, ken caldeira, precipitation increase, rainfall, thunderstorms, wet areas, wetness