Scientists Shed Light on Why the Earth Is Darker
THE Earth is getting darker because of pollution in the atmosphere, scientists claimed yesterday.
The cause of 'global dimming' emerged following the September 11 terrorist attacks of 2001.
After flights in New York were grounded, the days became brighter and the nights cooler.
Scientists believe this showed that pollutants are helping to cast a shadow over the planet.
The effect is thought to be produced by sunlight being bounced back into space after hitting particles created by car fumes, aerosols and planes.
The particles also help clouds to become more dense, adding to the overall 'gloom'.
One spin-off of the decline in sunlight may have been to keep global warming in check, said the scientists in their report published yesterday in BBC Focus magazine.
But as anti-pollutants kick in, the rate of global climate change will speed up.
Peter Cox, science director for climate change at the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology in Dorset, said: 'If global dimming and global warming have been cancelling each other out, then we should soon see an acceleration in the amount of global warming.' The increasing gloom has been noticed by experts over the last 50 years.
From the late 1950s to the early 1990s, the amount of sunshine reaching the Earth's surface dropped by around 10 per cent.
The fall was even greater in major industrial centres across Asia, the United States and Europe. In Hong Kong, the decrease was 37 per cent.
The possible effects on 'A major impact on what we know' weather, water supplies and agriculture is being studied around the world.
Food supply is a particular concern, as even a 1 per cent reduction in sunlight is enough to harm some crops. …