Newly discovered molecule could help cool the planet
A newly discovered molecule called the Criegee biradical could contribute much to fighting global warming, says a paper published in the journal Science today.
The molecule works by oxidizing sulphur dioxide and nitrogen dioxide, two combustion-produced pollutants, thus resulting in a cleaner atmosphere.
Criegee biradicals can also lead to aerosol formation and encourage cloud formation, which some scientists believe plays a part in cooling the Earth.
The molecule’s existence was first hypothesised in the 1950 by Rudolf Criegee, but scientists have not been able to find the actual thing until today.
The scientists used special tools designed by Sandia researchers to detect the molecules. The tool lets the researchers use an intense tuneable light from a third-generation synchrotron to discern the formation and removal of molecules that contain the same atoms but are arranged in varied patterns.
Dr Carl Percival, one of the paper’s authors, has voiced the expectation that the study’s results “will have a significant impact on our understanding of the oxidising capacity of the atmosphere and have wide ranging implications for pollution and climate change”.
In the last 30 years, the Earth’s average surface temperature has increased twice as much as it did in the 70 years prior to that time period.