South African Wildfires are Actually Cooling Earth (Study)

wildfires smoking on a plain

A new study claims that South African wildfires are actually helping cool Earth.


A team of researchers from the University of Wyoming has conducted a new study, published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, which claims that the biomass smoke coming from South African wildfires which covers the southeast Atlantic Ocean actually helps cool our planet.


This is possible because the brightness of the low-level clouds is enhanced, therefore creating a reflective phenomenon that fights off the greenhouse effect. According to Xiaohong Liu, who was part of the research, by changing the particles, the composition of the cloud is also altered.


So, their study found that when that smoke comes back down it mixes with the clouds. In their turn, these new clouds have enhanced reflective properties. It’s scientifically-proven that brighter clouds create a cooling effect by counteracting the greenhouse effect.


Liu, along with the paper’s lead author, Zheng Lu, conducted a series of high-resolution computational modeling. This targeted the smoke and its effect. The experiments were conducted at the National Center for Atmospheric Research-Wyoming Supercomputing Center.


It’s interesting that, over quite a lot of years, experts stated that smoke actually decreases the cooling effect of the clouds because it absorbs the light. This new study does not contradict that, but instead comes up with another explanation.


Smoke from South African Wildfires Might Help Fight Global Warming


The new study found that the cloud layers and the smoke are a lot closer than previously thought. This is why the clouds become more reflective of light, therefore, accelerating that cooling effect. Zhibo Zhang, a co-author of the paper, said that it was important for them to look at those two phenomena and see which one was more important.


Liu also says that their group is the first to come up with this amazing theory regarding smoke, clouds, and their cooling effect. Now, the team’s ultimate goal is to be able to refine global climate models according to this phenomenon.


Image source: Wikimedia