Between 2006 and 2017 the Chinese government implemented clean-air policies to reduce the public health impact of air pollution.
Similar to how the pollution emitted in a volcanic eruption can cause temperatures to drop, some pollutants from human activity also have a cooling effect on the climate.
Unlike greenhouse gases, which cause a warming effect by trapping heat in the atmosphere, aerosol pollutants can cause sunlight to be reflected away from the planet either directly or by interacting with clouds.
In order to mitigate air pollution, the researchers used a model based on atmospheric and oceanic systems over a 100-year period, which revealed that China’s pollution-reduction policies could have unmasked about 0.1 degrees Celcius of greenhouse gas-induced warming throughout the northern hemisphere.
Ken Caldeira, lead author of the study said: ‘The health risks associated with particulate pollution are very serious and mitigation efforts are unquestionably a good thing.
‘But it’s also important to understand how ongoing and future efforts to improve air quality will create additional challenges in the international fight against climate change.’
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