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2014-02-26. Smell of forest pine can limit climate change.

posted Mar 8, 2014, 3:42 PM by Alan Gould
For GSS Climate Change chapter 7. Excerpt: One of the biggest holes in scientific knowledge about climate change relates to the scale of the impact of atmospheric aerosols on temperatures. ...New research suggests a strong link between the powerful smell of pine trees and climate change. ...these scented vapours turn into aerosols above boreal forests. These particles promote cooling by reflecting sunlight back into space and helping clouds to form. ...The research, published in the journal Nature, fills in a major gap in our understanding, researchers say. ...the smell of pine, made up of volatile organic compounds, reacts with oxygen in the forest canopy to form these aerosols. ...They've discovered ultra-low volatility organic vapours in the air that irreversibly condense onto any surface or particle that they meet. ... this level of craziness is what gives them the special properties to stick to those smallest particles and help grow them up in size to become aerosols." ...The authors believe that this is playing a significant role in reducing the impact of rising temperatures. ..."In a warmer world, photosynthesis will become faster with rising CO2, which will lead to more vegetation and more emissions of these vapours," said lead author, Dr Mikael Ehn, now based at the University of Helsinki. "This should produce more cloud droplets and this should then have a cooling impact, it should be a damping effect." ...The scientists stress that the new understanding is not a panacea for climate change as forests will stop emitting vapours if they become too stressed from heat or lack of water.... http://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-26340038. Matt McGrath, BBC News.