Air Pollution a Large Driver of North Atlantic Climate Variability
North Atlantic sea-surface temperatures—which influence climate around the world—are largely influenced by the emissions of fine atmospheric particles, known as aerosols, from human and volcanic activity. The lead author of the Nature study explained to NPR that aerosols give water vapor in the atmosphere more places to condense, creating more clouds. Clouds reflect incoming solar radiation, thus increasing their abundance can end up cooling the ocean. These findings suggest that aerosol emissions may have played a major role in societally important climate events such as Atlantic hurricane activity and drought in the African Sahel and Amazon regions.