The role of atmospheric chemistry in climate change

Donald J. Wuebbles, Keith E. Grant, Peter S. Connell, Joyce E. Penner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Surface emissions and concentrations of globally important trace gases are increasing. Climate models indicate significant temperature increases could occur in the next century due to increasing CO2concentrations. However, the combined direct radiative effects from other trace gases could be as large as those estimated for CO2. Many of these gases also have indirect effects on climate through their chemical interactions with other.radiatively important atmospheric constituents. For example, within the troposphere, emissions of CH4, CO, and NOxmay increase concentrations of ozone, an important radiatively active gas. These emissions may also affect concentrations of hydroxyl (OH), which, while not radiatively important, has an important impact on tropospheric chemistry and on the concentrations of long-lived gases reaching the stratosphere. In the stratosphere, dissociation of CH4, N2O, and the CFCs can lead to changes in the ozone distribution. Oxidation of increasing CH4concentrations would increase stratospheric concentrations of radiatively important water vapor. Climate change can, on the other hand, alter tropospheric H2O concentrations, further affecting chemistry impacts on climate. In this paper, we examine the importance of chemical processes and other interactions in determining climatic change and future policy options.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)22-28
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of the Air Pollution Control Association
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1989
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Engineering
  • General Environmental Science
  • Pollution
  • General Earth and Planetary Sciences


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