The projectís researchers may have shed new light on another factor: the effects of sulphur-containing atmospheric particulates.
Burning coal is the main way that humans continue to add to the vast amounts of tiny sulphate particulates in the atmosphere. These particulates can act as condensation nuclei for cloud formation, cooling the climate indirectly by causing more cloud cover, scientists believe. According to this reasoning, if Europe, the US and potentially China reduce their particulate emissions in the coming years as planned, it should actually contribute to more global warming.
But the findings of the Norwegian project indicate that particulate emissions probably have less of an impact on climate through indirect cooling effects than previously thought.
So the good news is that even if we do manage to cut emissions of sulphate particulates in the coming years, global warming will probably be less extreme than feared.