UNEP Releases Report on Atmospheric Brown Clouds

Cities Across Asia Get Dimmer: Impacts on Glaciers, Agriculture and the Monsoon Get Clearer

13 November 2008: The UN Environment Programme (UNEP)

released a report on Atmospheric Brown Clouds (ABCs) that shows that, in

addition to affecting agriculture and human health, this layer of soot and

manmade particles can both aggravate, via the absorption of sunlight, and

counteract, via the reflection of sunlight and effects on cloud formation,

climate change due to greenhouse gases.

The report also finds that: some “hot

spot” cities have experienced a decrease in sunlight of over 20% since the

1970s; the local effects of ABCs seem to vary widely across China and India;

ABCs appear to play a part in monsoons by contributing to new gradients in

surface sea temperatures; and the resulting acceleration of the retreat of some

glaciers threatens the water supplies for millions of people. Speaking on ABCs,

Achim Steiner, UN Under-Secretary General and UNEP Executive Director, called

on developed countries to support the development of green energy in developing

countries. He noted that by doing so, they would tackle climate change and

“turn off the soot-stream” that feed the formation of ABCs worldwide.

He added

that the source of greenhouse gases and soot are often the same: unsustainable

burning of fossil fuels; inefficient combustion of biomass and deforestation. [UNEP

Press Release] [The