How can water vapor help slow down global warming?



  1. 0 Votes

    Interesting question. Water vapor is a greenhouse gas, similar to carbon dioxide and methane. So, it actually functions to increase the greenhouse effect that could promote climate change and a temperature rise. However, water vapor is also the main constituent of clouds, and clouds are a big unknown in climate scientists’ understanding of how the various feedback loops will ultimately impact the planet’s climate. For example, some clouds increase the albedo of the earth’s atmosphere, so heat from the sun actually never reaches the surface, but instead just is reflected back into the outer atmosphere  by the clouds. This function could serve to decrease the sun’s energy that reaches the surface and help to balance the greenhouse effect. However, on the other hand, some clouds actually increase the greenhouse effect, which reinforces a trend towards rising temperatures.

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