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Altostratus clouds
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Courtesy of Ronald L. Holle

Clouds, Climate and Cosmic Rays
News story originally written on September 4, 2002

Our planet is becoming a warmer place. But higher levels in the atmosphere stay cool while the Earth's surface warms.

This is probably because of clouds. High clouds reflect sunlight and low clouds hold heat in like a blanket. This means that more thick, low clouds will warm the surface of the Earth, but not higher levels in the atmosphere.

How can the amounts of clouds change? Cosmic rays may be responsible because they help make the low, thick clouds. With more cosmic rays, there are more low clouds that warm the surface.


Last modified September 4, 2002 by Lisa Gardiner.

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