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ERC

C8 Result In Brief

Project ID: 226144
Funded under: FP7-IDEAS-ERC
Country: Cyprus

Aerosol Chemistry and Climate

An EU study modelled the physics and chemistry of aerosol particles and climate in the eastern Mediterranean. Increasing levels of pollution will exacerbate the region's warming and drying trend, impacting population health.
Aerosol Chemistry and Climate
Changes to atmospheric dust and trace gases, resulting from human activities, affect clouds and the whole climate system. Yet to date such changes have been difficult to model directly.

The EU-funded C8 (Consistent computation of the chemistry-cloud continuum and climate change in Cyprus) project developed a suitable model. The tool represented aerosols, including dust, and complex atmospheric chemical processes involving pollution. The model focused on the eastern Mediterranean.

Results indicated that the region is a climate change hotspot. Proxy data from the last 500 years showed a trend in recent decades of increased surface temperatures and reduced rainfall. Such changes are clearly anthropogenic. Summer temperatures in the region have increased particularly strongly. In temperate and semi-arid areas, the temperature increase was exacerbated by decreased soil moisture, which limits evaporative cooling.

Predicted effects included water scarcity, increasing occurrence of extremely hot summers, and greater risk of forest fires and air pollution. The model also predicts increasing ozone formation: an added health risk. Concentrations of atmospheric aerosols will probably increase. Together, the effects may produce significant health consequences.

The model's chemical component predicted that pollution aerosols would increase droplet formation in low clouds, modify rainfall patterns and suppress the formation of deep thunderstorm clouds. Such changes contribute to a reduction of precipitation in the region.

Researchers noted a connection between the eastern Mediterranean's summertime northerly winds and the South Asian monsoon. The monsoon's earlier onset introduces greater interactions between the troposphere and stratosphere, increasing ozone concentrations in the lower atmosphere.

The model could explain how weather fronts bring desert dust from Africa and the Middle East, and pollution from Europe. The weather systems were expected to mix the dust and pollution, making the dust more soluble. The dust would form clouds and rain, removing it from the atmosphere. As dust backscatters solar radiation, its removal exacerbates regional warming.

C8 was the first study to directly model regional atmospheric processes including chemistry and climate. The eastern Mediterranean may suffer from climate change particularly strongly.

Related information

Keywords

Atmospheric, dust, C8, aerosols, clouds, climate
Record Number: 188411 / Last updated on: 2016-08-30
Domain: Environment