New particle can cool the planet, claims study

New Molecule

Amidst global warming concerns storming the planet, can the natural ecosystem itself be of any help? In what seems like a major breakthrough, scientists from the University of Manchester and the University of Bristol have stumbled upon a molecule in the Earth’s atmosphere that has the potential to cool the planet, thereby lessening the impact of global warming.

These invisible molecules are claimed to be strong oxidizers of pollutants like sulfur dioxide and nitrogen dioxide that are generated by combustion. The team believed that these particles have the potential to tidy up the planet naturally.

These chemical intermediates were first considered as part of a hypothesis in 1950, but they have now been discovered in this research. In the analysis, the team utilized acute, tunable light coming from the synchrotron that enabled them to distinguish the formulation and separation of a unique isomeric species.

These molecules called the Criegee biradicals, appear to work actively in the atmosphere by instigating rapid formation of sulphate and nitrate. The compounds consequently get transformed into aerosol that finally leads to formation of clouds, thereby cooling the planet in the process.

“Criegee radicals have been impossible to measure until this work carried out at the Advanced Light Source. We have been able to quantify how fast Criegee radicals react for the first time. Our results will have a significant impact on our understanding of the oxidising capacity of the atmosphere and have wide ranging implications for pollution and climate change,” cited Dr Carl Percival, Reader in Atmospheric Chemistry at The University of Manchester and one of the authors of the paper.

Notably, the formation of the aforesaid particles takes place all through day and night, as it does not rely on sunlight. Moreover, an important ingredient necessary for the development of Criegee biradicals are supposedly given out by plants. Therefore, natural ecosystems may aid in combating global warming to a certain extent.

The research is published in the journal, Science.

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