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Atmospheric aerosols: correlation is not causation

Posted by Olive Heffernan on behalf of Kevin E. Trenberth Aerosols in the atmosphere have been hot topics in several recent climate studies but one wonders if the pollution has made not only the atmosphere murkier but also the scientific reasoning? In March a widely reported study in PNAS by Zhang et al. linked changes in storm tracks over the North Pacific to Asian pollution. In this case effects on radiative forcing by atmospheric aerosols supposedly increased deep convective clouds over the Pacific Ocean in winter, a finding based on long-term satellite cloud measurements (1984–2005). The blame was assigned to 

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