Seventy-eight percent of the Earth’s atmosphere is nitrogen, and twenty-one percent is oxygen. Both of these gases do not absorb infrared radiation. The heat from the Sun passes through nitrogen and oxygen. When scientists refer to global warming they are not talking about the two gases that make up 99% of our atmosphere.
Global warming is what happens in one percent of the atmosphere. Carbon, water vapor, and other trace gases/particles absorb infrared radiation from the Sun, and from solar infrared radiation that.is reflected off the Earth’s surface. One percent of our air holds the balance between continuity of our climate and rapid variances.
This summer one of my friends, Dr. Narayan Adhikari, completed his doctoral theses. He studied the rate of infrared absorption in the atmosphere by using instruments that regularly measured the air over various locations in northern Nevada. His research included two significant events that impacted the air quality in the Reno, Nevada area. One event was a dust storm in June of last year and the other was smoke from the Rim fire in California in August of 2013.
Both of these events gave him the opportunity to measure the impact of infrared absorption when the atmosphere has a dramatic increase in amount of aerosol particulates. The results of his studies indicate a significant increase in heating of the atmosphere by infrared absorption during such events.
This debunks the idea that clouds, smoke, and other ‘sun-blocking’ events might help cool the atmosphere. Smoke from fires, such as the King fire currently burning in California will trap more heat and cause increased global warming.