Global Warming and Local Dimming: The Statistical Evidence

CentER Discussion Paper Series No. 2011-004

33 Pages Posted: 21 Jul 2011

See all articles by J.R. Magnus

J.R. Magnus

Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, School of Business and Economics

Bertrand Melenberg

Tilburg University - Center for Economic Research (CentER)

Chris Muris

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Date Written: January 21, 2011

Abstract

Two effects largely determine global warming: the well-known greenhouse effect and the less well-known solar radiation effect. An increase in concentrations of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases contributes to global warming: the greenhouse effect. In addition, small particles, called aerosols, reflect and absorb sunlight in the atmosphere. More pollution causes an increase in aerosols, so that less sunlight reaches the Earth (global dimming). Despite its name, global dimming is primarily a local (or regional) effect. Because of the dimming the Earth becomes cooler: the solar radiation effect. Global warming thus consists of two components: the (global) greenhouse effect and the (local) solar radiation effect, which work in opposite directions. Only the sum of the greenhouse effect and the solar radiation effect is observed, not the two effects separately. Our purpose is to identify the two effects. This is important, because the existence of the solar radiation effect obscures the magnitude of the greenhouse effect. We propose a simple climate model with a small number of parameters. We gather data from a large number of weather stations around the world for the period 1959–2002. We then estimate the parameters using dynamic panel data methods, and quantify the parameter uncertainty. Next, we decompose the estimated temperature change of 0.73 ◦C (averaged over the weather stations) into a greenhouse effect of 1.87 ◦C, a solar radiation effect of −1.09 ◦C, and a small remainder term. Finally, we subject our findings to extensive sensitivity analyses.

Keywords: global warming, dimming, aerosols, dynamic panel data

Suggested Citation

Magnus, Jan R. and Melenberg, Bertrand and Muris, Chris, Global Warming and Local Dimming: The Statistical Evidence (January 21, 2011). CentER Discussion Paper Series No. 2011-004. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1744872 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1744872

Jan R. Magnus (Contact Author)

Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, School of Business and Economics ( email )

De Boelelaan 1105
Amsterdam, 1081HV
Netherlands

Bertrand Melenberg

Tilburg University - Center for Economic Research (CentER) ( email )

P.O. Box 90153
Tilburg, 5000 LE
Netherlands
+31 13 466 2730 (Phone)

Chris Muris

affiliation not provided to SSRN ( email )

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