Longterm Potsdam measurements confirm aerosol effect

10/15/2015 - Longterm measurements from the Potsdam weather station are confirming assumptions about the effects of greenhouse-gases and aerosols in the atmosphere used in current computer simulations of the climate system. Tiny particles in the atmosphere, emitted for instance from coal power plants, reduce the amount of solar radiation that hits the ground - hence they have some cooling effect. This effect is correctly represented in climate models, shows a new analysis of weather data recorded in Potsdam since 1937. This series of continued measurements is one of the longest on Earth.
Longterm Potsdam measurements confirm aerosol effect

"Some global observations seemed to indicate that the direct effect of aerosols on solar radiation hardly exists, suggesting that aerosols only indirectly - by contributing to cloud formation - reduce warming," says lead-author Tobias Vetter from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research. Co-author Frank Wechsung: "Our analysis of the outstandingly continuous now confirmed previous assumptions about the aerosol effect - so this effect is correctly represented in current climate models."

In the second half of the past century, power generation from lignite-fueled power plants emitted a lot of particulate matter into the air. After the collapse of the East German socialist state, the "German Democratic Republic", these emissions rapidly reduced. The amount of solar radiation getting to the ground in Potsdam changed accordingly. "Only measurements that run unchanged for at least several decades allow retrospective analyses like the one we did, so obviously we'd wish for a continuation of these long-term Potsdam measurements," says Wechsung. Some of the local observation series started as early as 1893.


Weblink to the article: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/2015JD023669/abstract

Weblink to the Potsdam longterm measurements: https://www.pik-potsdam.de/services/infodesk/telegraphenberg/suering-haus/long-term-meteorological-station