The abundance of biologically sourced aerosols, such as those formed from plant emissions of volatile organic compounds, increases with temperature, potentially cooling the climate, reports a paper published online this week in Nature Geoscience. The findings suggest that biologically sourced particle emissions could dampen future warming.
Pauli Paasonen and colleagues examined the relationship between temperature and atmospheric aerosol abundance in the mid- and high-latitudes, using observations of atmospheric particles collected over land in environments ranging from clean semi-Arctic areas to polluted agricultural areas. The abundance of large aerosol particles soared with temperature, which they attribute to a temperature-dependent increase in the biological production of precursor compounds. They suggest that these aerosols could serve as seeds for cloud formation, leading to the reflectance of incoming sunlight and a reduction in surface temperatures.