by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Two climate scientists skeptical of man-made global warming are closely watching a study they say could be a “death knell” to climate alarmism.
A major scientific study conducted at the University of Reading on the interactions between aerosols and clouds is much weaker than most climate models assume, meaning the planet could warm way less than predicted.
“Currently, details are few, but apparently the results of a major scientific study on the effects of anthropogenic aerosols on clouds are going to have large implications for climate change projections—substantially lowering future temperature rise expectations,” Cato Institute climate scientists Patrick Michaels and Chip Knappenberger wrote in a recent blog post.
Michaels and Knappenberger, both self-described “lukewarmers,” cited a blog post by Reading scientist Dr. Nicolas Bellouin on the preliminary results of his extensive research into this rather vague area of climate science.
Bellouin wrote “there are reasons to expect that aerosol-cloud interactions are weaker than simulated by climate models – and perhaps even weaker than the preliminary… estimate.”
If Bellouin’s preliminary results hold (or are revised downward), that would mean there’s less of a cooling effect from human-created aerosols interacting with clouds, which morph clouds so they bounce incoming solar energy back into space.
“It may be that aerosol-cloud interactions are lost in the noise of natural variability in cloud properties, but for such a large perturbation, the impacts are surprisingly hard to isolate,” Bellouin wrote.
For decades, scientists assumed aerosols — mostly emitted from coal plants, shipping, car travel and other industrial sources — had a sizable cooling effect on the planet, but that might not be the case. More importantly, however, is the fact that if aerosols don’t have much of a cooling effect, the planet is not as sensitive to increases in greenhouse gas emissions. That means less warming.