Averaged over the globe, aerosols made by human
activities currently account for about 10 percent of the total amount of
aerosols in our atmosphere. Most of that
10 percent is concentrated in the Northern Hemisphere, especially downwind
of industrial sites, slash-and-burn agricultural regions, and overgrazed
Scientists have much to learn about the way aerosols affect regional and global climate. We have yet to accurately quantify the relative impacts on climate of natural aerosols and those of human origin. Moreover, we do not know in what regions of the planet the amount of atmospheric aerosol is increasing, is diminishing, and is remaining roughly constant. Overall, we do not even know whether aerosols are warming or cooling our planet.
Optical depth, direct radiative forcing and simulated
surface air temperature change for three assumed anthropogenic aerosol
distributions (Hansen et al., 1998) .