PerspectiveClimate Change

Soot Takes Center Stage

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Science  27 Sep 2002:
Vol. 297, Issue 5590, pp. 2214-2215
DOI: 10.1126/science.1076866

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Carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases are well known to warm Earth's atmosphere. Most particles have the reverse cooling effect, but as Chameides and Bergin discuss in their Perspective, soot, or black carbon, warms the atmosphere. They highlight the report by Menon et al., who show in a model study that black carbon may have influenced droughts and flooding in China over the last 20 years. Understanding of the climatic effects of black carbon remains, however, limited, largely because of uncertainties in the techniques used to measure black carbon and characterize its radiative properties.