Recent reductions in emissions of tiny particles, the main culprits behind global atmospheric pollution, have triggered an uptick in heat within Earth’s climate system. This revelation stems from a recent international study spearheaded by Cicero and featured in ‘Nature Communications Earth & Environment’. Satellite data lays bare an imbalance in Earth’s atmospheric dynamics, where solar heat surpasses the planet’s ability to dissipate terrestrial energy into space. This energy dissonance results in a buildup of heat, consequently warming the Earth’s surface.

The narrative of human-induced CO2 emissions and other greenhouse gases as the primary drivers of recent global warming is well-established. However, particle emissions have historically obscured a portion of this warming. Traditionally, these particles, particularly sulfates, acted as a reflective shield against solar radiation, imparting a cooling effect on the planet. Nonetheless, over the last two decades, a paradigm shift has occurred. Thanks to concerted efforts to improve air quality across various regions, these particles now contribute to warming rather than cooling.

In this comprehensive study, researchers employed cutting-edge global climate models to conduct simulations, juxtaposing their findings with satellite observations spanning from 2001 to 2019. The study’s findings underscore the critical importance of factoring in recent reductions in anthropogenic particle emissions to achieve alignment between model predictions and satellite-derived data. Notably, when scientists held the assumption of unchanging particle emissions over time, simulated Earth warming experienced a significant reduction.

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