A new study has revealed that the effect of greenhouse gases and aerosols on spatial patterns of rainfall change are similar, regardless of their distinct properties.
A team of scientists from the University of Hawaii at Manoa's International Pacific Research Center (IPRC) and Scripps Institution of Oceanography has provided important new insights based on results from experiments with three state-of-the-art climate models.
Even though aerosols and greenhouse gases are concentrated in vastly different regions of the earth, all three models revealed similar regional effects on rainfall over the ocean.
Lead-author Shang-Ping Xie, a professor of climate science and first Roger Revelle Chair in Environmental Science at Scripps noted that both aerosol-induced and greenhouse-gas-induced changes in rainfall appear to be mediated by the spatial patterns of sea surface temperature.
"Although much of the aerosol research has focused on microphysical processes, over the ocean the climate response to aerosols appears to be insensitive to details of the micro-processes in clouds," Xie said.
The researcher added that the climate changes induced by greenhouse gases and by aerosols share a common set of ocean-atmospheric feedback structures, explaining the spatial resemblance between the two types of response.
The study is published in journal of Nature Geoscience.