Clear Sky Visibility Has Decreased over Land Globally from 1973 to 2007

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Science  13 Mar 2009:
Vol. 323, Issue 5920, pp. 1468-1470
DOI: 10.1126/science.1167549

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Visibility in the clear sky is reduced by the presence of aerosols, whose types and concentrations have a large impact on the amount of solar radiation that reaches Earth's surface. Here we establish a global climatology of inverse visibilities over land from 1973 to 2007 and interpret it in terms of changes in aerosol optical depth and the consequent impacts on incident solar radiation. The aerosol contribution to “global dimming,” first reported in terms of strong decreases in measured incident solar radiation up to the mid-1980s, has monotonically increased over the period analyzed. Since that time, visibility has increased over Europe, consistent with reported European “brightening,” but has decreased substantially over south and east Asia, South America, Australia, and Africa, resulting in net global dimming over land.

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