The increase in temperature of the Earth was a brief pause during the 2000s, one of the warmest on record, the reason was the pollution of the atmosphere with sulfur released into the atmosphere by the burning of coal in China mass.
The possible explanation for the break seems to go against common sense. According to the new study, the sulfur particles in the air deflect sunlight and can produce a temporary slight cooling in the environment. This may occur even though the burning of coal produces carbon dioxide that contributes to global warming.
“People are generally concentrated in the greenhouse CO2 (carbon dioxide), but during the Chinese economic expansion there was an exceptional increase in sulfur emissions,” which has a cooling effect, explained Robert K. Kaufmann, University of Boston. The scientist is the author of the research that was published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States.
But the cooling effect of sulfur is only temporary, while the carbon dioxide from coal burning persists for long periods in the Earth’s atmosphere.
Coal consumption in China doubled between 2003 and 2007 with a consequent 26% increase in global consumption, Kaufmann said.
Now that the Chinese authorities have recognized the consequences of such pollution in the environment and the health of its inhabitants, are installing equipment to absorb the sulfur particles, Kaufmann noted.
Sulfur air soon disappears if not replacement, while carbon dioxide remains for a long time, so its warming effects are beginning to be seen again, he said. The pause in the temperature increase disappeared in 2009 and 2010, when the temperature rose sharply.
In fact, NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric considered tied with 2010 as the warmest year on record, while the Hadley Center of the British Meteorological Office makes it the second warmest after 1998.
The cooling property of sulfur has led some to suggest that it is used in a geoengineering feat to cool the planet. The idea is that the placement of layers of sulfur compounds in the atmosphere very high global warming could alleviate the increased presence of haze and cloud deflect sunlight. Some research has concluded that it is a bad idea.