Slide 27: Aerosols
Aerosols are small particles dispersed in the air (Kemp, 1994), and include dust, water, soot, sea crystals, and many others.
Aerosols typically generate a cooling effect on the atmosphere by either acting as seeds for cloud formation, or by directly reflecting solar radiation.
Although natural causes still generate significantly more aerosols than anthropogenic, there is some concern that the high levels of aerosol emission in the northern hemisphere (particularly where there is large amounts of burning such as the East, or dirty power generation) might be masking the actual effects of climate change.
This cooling effect is a very short term effect in comparison to other anthropogenic radiative forcings, and consequently climate change may paradoxically be accelerated to some extent by reduced emissions.
Kemp, D.D., 1994. Global environmental issues: a climatological approach, 2nd ed. Routledge, London, 224pp.