News Stories

Global Dimming

In 1985, researcher Atsumu Ohmura discovered that it's too dark. When he checked the levels of sunlight recorded in Europe and compared them to similar measurements made in the 1960s, he found that levels of solar radiation hitting the Earth had declined by more than 10%.

David Adam writes in The Guardian that this is happening despite the fact that the planet is getting hotter. Ohmura says, "I was shocked. The difference was so big that I just could not believe it." Scientists now refer to this as "global dimming." Over the past 50 years, the amount of sunlight reaching the Earth has decreased by about 3% a decade.

"It's an extraordinary thing that for some reason this hasn't penetrated even into the thinking of the people looking at global climate change," says climatologist Graham Farquhar. "It's actually quite a big deal and I think you'll see a lot more people referring to it."

It doesn't mean the sun is sending out less radiation, it means that less of it is reaching the Earth, due to pollution. Tiny particles of soot reflect sunlight and cause bigger, longer lasting clouds to form.

This will cause solar power to work less effectively and also affect agriculture?especially in northern areas. Researcher Shabtai Cohen says, "In the northern climate?a reduction in solar radiation becomes a reduction in productivity. In greenhouses in Holland, the rule of thumb is that a 1% decrease in solar radiation equals a 1% drop in productivity. Because they're light limited, they're always very busy cleaning the tops of their greenhouses."

To see climate change in action, click here. And read the book that started it all!

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