File:Sulfuric Acid Molecule VdW.png

From Global Warming Art


The chemical symbols for sulfuric acid
Image showing the effects of various process on global temperature change. Sulphate aerosols, derived from industrial activity, have provided a cooling effect on the Earth's atmosphere and partially offset global warming.

This is a space filling model showing the chemical structure of sulfuric acid. The size of each atom is determined by its Van der Waals radius and the relative positions faithfully reproduce the structure of the molecule. Colors follow traditional conventions used in popular molecular visualization software (e.g. Jmol).

Sulfuric acid is a trace gas in the atmosphere and is formed primarily by the reaction of sulfur dioxide and sulphate bearing compounds with water in the atmosphere. Such sulfur sources can be either natural, primarily due to volcanoes, or man-made. During the course of the 20th century, increasing sulfur emissions from industrial activity have led to elevated concentrations of sulphate and sulfuric acid in the atmosphere. Because sulfuric acid particles scatter visible light, they act to increase the Earth's albedo and reduce temperatures at Earth's surface. In addition, sulfuric acid acts to stabilize condensation nuclei affecting the formation and duration of cloud cover. Collectively, these effects have partially offset the warming of greenhouse gases during the twentieth century (e.g. global dimming).

Because sulfuric acid has a very short residence time in the atmosphere (weeks), whereas carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases accumulate over centuries, it is likely that the cooling effects of sulfur compounds will have only a very limited effect on long-term global warming.

In large concentrations, sulfuric acid in the atmosphere gives rise to acid rain.


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current05:48, 30 January 2007Thumbnail for version as of 05:48, 30 January 2007400×315 (60 KB)Robert A. Rohde (Talk | contribs)