Cloud cover and aerosols over some areas of the planet may trap heat, adding warmth to the atmosphere, while in other areas the clouds may reflect solar radiation away, cooling the earth below. What really matters is the net effect—whether the global atmosphere is warmer or cooler overall. However, when it comes to modeling the future climate, scientists have discovered that they need a better understanding of local climate features. Atmospheric additions of greenhouse gases and anthropogenic aerosols add up quickly, but when combined with local weather and topography, they don’t always result in a predictably consistent outcome. The more data scientists can gather on the types of changes that occur and why, the more accurately they may be able to predict the future global energy balance.
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