Black carbon and soot emissions from Central Europe’s ‘Black Triangle’ over parts of Germany, Poland and the Czech Republic have increased cloud reflectivity in the area, altering cloud properties across the continent, according to a German study published in the latest issue of Geophysical Research Letters.

Olaf Krueger and Hartmut Grassl from the University of Hamburg analyzed 15 years of cloud albedo – or reflectivity – measured by satellites over Europe, and discovered a 2% drop in cloud reflectivity since the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989. Visible black carbon emissions over the area were found to reduce cloud reflectivity even more during wintertime.

The scientists warn that the decrease in cloud albedo could accelerate the global warming effect over Europe.

A recent study found that soot emissions from Asia were changing air circulation patterns over the continent, and could be contributing to global warming (see related story).

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