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Published: Tuesday 30 July, 2013

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Global dimming is the gradual reduction in the amount of global direct irradiance at the Earths surface that was observed for several decades after the start of systematic measurements in 1950s. The effect varies by location, but worldwide it has been estimated to be of the order of a 4% reduction over the three decades from 19601990. However, since 1990, the trend has reversed.

It is thought to have been caused by an increase in particulates such as sulphate aerosols in the atmosphere due to human action. The switch from a global dimming trend to a brightening trend in 1990 happened just as global aerosol levels started to decline.

Global dimming has interfered with the hydrological cycle by reducing evaporation and may have reduced rainfall in some areas. Global dimming also creates a cooling effect that may have partially masked the effect of greenhouse gases on global warming.

It is thought that global dimming was probably due to the increased presence of aerosol particles in the atmosphere caused by human action. Aerosols and other particulates absorb solar energy and reflect sunlight back into space. The pollutants can also become nuclei for cloud droplets. Water d designers bags outlet roplets in clouds coalesce around the particles. Increased pollution causes more particulates and thereby creates clouds consisting of a greater number of smaller droplets that is, the same amount of water is spread over more droplets. The smaller droplets make clouds more reflective, so that more incoming sunlight is reflected back into space and less reaches the earths surface.

Clouds intercept both heat from the sun and heat radiated from the Earth. Their effects are complex and vary in time, location, and altitude. Usually during the daytime the interception of sunlight predominates, giving a cooling effect; however, at night the reradiation of heat to the Earth slows the Earths heat loss.

Over the last 50 or so years, pan evaporation has been carefully monitored. For decades, nobody took much notice of the pan evaporation measurements. But in the 1990s in Europe, Israel, and North America, scientists spotted something that at the time was considered very strange: the rate of evaporation was falling although they had expected it to increase due to global warming. The same trend has been observed in China over a similar period. A decrease in solar irradiance is cited as the driving force. However, unlike in other areas of the world, in China the decrease in solar irradiance was not always accompanied by an increase in cloud cover and precipitation. It is believed that aerosols may play a critical role in the decrease of solar irradiance in China. However, pan evaporation depends on some additional factors besides net radiation from the sun. The other two major fac designers bags outlet tors are vapor pressure deficit and wind speed. The ambient temperature turns out to be a negligible factor. The pan evaporation data corroborates the data gathered by radiometer and fills in the gaps in the data obtained using pyranometers. With adjustments to these factors, pan evaporation data has been compared to results of climate simulations.

The incomplete combustion of fossil fuels such as diesel and wood releases black carbon into the air. Though black carbon, most of which is soot, is an extremely small component of air pollution at land surface levels, the phenomenon has a significant heating effect on the atmosphere at altitudes above two kilometers 6,562 ft. Also, it dims the surface of the ocean by absorbing solar radiation.

Experiments in the Maldives comparing the atmosphere over the northern and southern islands in the 1990s showed that the effect of macroscopic pollutants in the atmosphere at that time blown south from India caused about a 10% reduction in sunlight reaching the surface in the area under the pollution cloud a much greater reduction than expected from the presence of the particles themselves. Prior to the research being undertaken, predictions were of a 0.51% effect from particulate matter; the variation from prediction may be explained by cloud formation with the particles acting as the focus for droplet creation. Clouds are very effective at reflecting light back out into space.

The phenomenon underlying global dimming may also have regional effects. While most of the earth has warmed, the regions that are downwind from major sources of air pollution specifically sulfur dioxide emissions have generally cooled. This may explain the cooling of the eastern United States relative to the warming western part.

However some research shows that black carbon will actually increase global warming being second only to CO2. They believe that soot will absorb solar energy and transport it to other areas such as the Himalayas where glacial melt occurs. It can also darken Arctic ice reducing reflectivity and increasing absorption of solar radiation.

Some climate scientists have theorized that aircraft contrails also called vapor trails are implicated in global dimming, but the constant flow of air traffic previously meant that this could not be tested. The neartotal shutdown of civil air traffic during the three days following the September 11, 2001 attacks afforded a rare opportunity in which to observe the climate of the United States absent from the effect of contrails. aircraft contrails may have been raising nighttime temperatures and/or lowering daytime temperatures by much more than previously thought.

Airborne volcanic ash can reflect the Suns rays back out into space and cool the planet. Dips in earth temperatures have been observed from large volcano eruptions such as Mount Agung in Bali that erupted in 1963, El Chichon Mexico 1983, Ruiz Colombia 1985, and Pinatubo Philippines 1991. But even for major eruptions, the ash clouds remain only for relatively short periods.

Some scientists now consider that the effects of global dimming have masked the effect of global warming to some extent and that resolving global dimming may therefore lead to increases in predictions of future temperature rise. According to Beate Liepert, We lived in a global warming plus a global dimming world and now we are taking out global dimming. So we end up with the global warming world, which will be much worse than we thought it will be, much hotter. The magnitude of this masking effect is one of the central problems in climate change with significant implications for future climate changes and policy responses to global warming.

Interactions between the two theories for climate modification have also been studied, as global warming and global dimming are not mutually exclusive or contradictory. In a paper published on March 8, 2005 in the American Geophysical Unions Geophysical Research Letters, a research team led by Anastasia Romanou of Columbia Universitys Department of Applied Physics and Mathematics, New York, also showed that the apparently opposing forces of global warming and global dimming can occur at the same time. Global dimming interacts with global warming by blocking sunlight that would otherwise cause evaporation and the particulates bind to water droplets. Water vapor is one of the greenhouse gases. On the other hand, global dimming is affected by evaporation and rain. Rain has the effect of clearing out polluted skies.

Brown clouds have been found to amplify global warming according to V. Ramanathan, an atmospheric chemist at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in La Jolla, CA. The conventional thinking is that brown clouds have masked as much as 50 percent of global warming by greenhouse gases through socalled global dimming, . While this is true globally, this study reveals that over southern and eastern Asia, the soot particles in the brown clouds are in fact amplifying the atmospheric warming trend cause designers bags outlet d by greenhouse gases by as much as 50 percent. designers bags outlet