How does rising atmospheric CO2 affect marine organisms?

Click to locate material archived on our website by topic

More Evidence of Increases in Cloudiness and Snow/Ice Cover
Herman, J.R., Larko, D., Celarier, E. and Ziemke, J. 2001. Changes in the Earth's UV reflectivity from the surface, clouds, and aerosols. Journal of Geophysical Research 106: 5353-5368.

What was done
The authors used TOMS (Total Ozone Mapping Spectrometer) 380-nm reflectivity data to determine changes in radiation reflected back to space over the period 1979 to 1992.

What was learned
In the words of the authors, "when the 11.3-year solar-cycle and ENSO effects are removed from the time series, the zonally averaged annual linear-fit trends show that there have been increases in reflectivity (cloudiness) poleward of 40N and 30S, with some smaller but significant changes occurring in the equatorial and lower middle latitudes." The overall long-term effect, they say, is for an increase in radiation reflected back to space of 2.8 Wm-2 per decade (standard deviation of 1.4 Wm-2 per decade).

What it means
Although a precise estimate of the cooling effect of this phenomenon cannot be given, the authors say "the uncertainty is small enough to know that there is a likely cooling effect from additional radiation reflected to space." They further note that this cooling effect is provided "by changes in the amount of snow/ice, cloudiness, and aerosols." Hence, it is clear that some of earth's best negative feedback effects are indeed working - and quite successfully - to maintain planetary surface air temperatures within a range that is suitable for the continued existence, and even robustness, of life.