Reducing aerosols and other pollutants has been a major part of Europe’s campaign to reduce global warming, but a new study turns conventional thinking on its head, New Scientist reports. "The decrease in aerosols probably accounts for at least half of the warming over Europe in the last 30 years," says a co-author of the study.
Scientists compared aerosol concentrations from six locations from 1986-2005, concluding that as aerosol concentrations declined by 60%, solar radiation rose significantly. Average temperatures in Europe have increased 1 degree Celsius (about 2 degrees Fahrenheit) since 1980—more warming than scientists predicted from greenhouse gases alone. (Read more greenhouse gases stories.)