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Industrieanlage mit Pfeifen und Rauch. Panorama von industriellem Komplex. Emissionen von Luftschadstoffen. Rauch aus einer Fabrik

How do air pollutants affect the climate?

Discussions about greenhouse gases usually include mention of common terms such as methane and CO₂. However, air pollutants such as particulate matter and ammonia do no less damage to the climate, since they can also act as greenhouse gases or serve as precursor compounds of them.

Air pollutants are substances in the air that can compromise human health and the environment. They can come from natural or anthropogenic (i.e., man-made) sources. Natural pollutants include soot and sulfur dioxide, which are produced by volcanic eruptions. Particulate matter and carbon monoxide caused by traffic are examples of anthropogenic air pollutants.

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Answers to climate questions

Further climate research at Helmholtz

Answers for politics, administration and business (GERICS)

The Climate Service Center Germany (GERICS) offers products, advisory services and decision-relevant information in a scientifically sound manner to support government, administration and business in their efforts to adapt to climate change. This takes account of the rapidly growing need for advice on climate issues and closes the gap between science and practice.

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The German Climate Computing Center

For climate modeling, climate researchers need the highest computing power and produce a wealth of data: For more than 30 years, the German Climate Computing Center (DKRZ) in Hamburg, as a central, national service facility, has been providing computing power for climate and earth system research. Its high-performance computers, data storage and services are the central research infrastructure for simulation-based climate science in Germany.

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ESKP: Explaining climate knowledge comprehensively

In order to investigate and understand the consequences, causes and effects of climate change, researchers have to work together across disciplines and pass on their knowledge to society and politics. The Earth System Knowledge Platform (ESKP) prepares research results from the Helmholtz Centers on the subjects of "natural hazards", "climate change", "pollutants" and "effects of the energy transition on the environment" in an easily understandable manner for various target groups.

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Climate change on a regional scale (REKLIM)

The earth is undergoing a profound change: the air temperature is rising, the oceans are warming up, glaciers, ice sheets and snow packs are decreasing more and more, and the global sea level is rising. The Helmholtz Association "Regional Climate Change and People" (REKLIM) looks at the interactions between atmosphere, ocean and land surfaces to understand regional impacts of climate change in detail.

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Long-term effects of global changes: TERENO

Environmental changes in our climate, land productivity, or our atmosphere have far-reaching effects on the functionality of ecosystems. The terrestrial environmental observation platforms (TERENO) catalog the long-term effects of global change on various environmental systems and develop strategies to counteract negative effects as early as possible.

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MOSES (Modular Observation Solutions for Earth Systems)

Where exactly, to what extent and with what consequences heat and drought, extreme hydrological events, ocean eddies and the sudden thawing of permafrost will affect our environment, are questions that Helmholtz researchers investigate with the MOSES observation system. It consists of mobile modules, whose devices can be assembled flexibly, depending on the conditions of use or research needs. MOSES will go into operation in 2022 after a five-year construction phase.

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Regional Climate Offices of the Helmholtz Association

Although climate change is a global challenge, it influences every region differently. The Helmholtz Association established a nationwide network of four regional climate offices to give farmers, coastal engineers, urban planners, and decision-makers from politics and business first-hand information and research results on regional climate change in Germany.

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Centers involved