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Scientists Find Out That Pine Trees Actually Help To Form Clouds


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The newest research on the block suggests that the pine trees can form clouds. The findings of the two latest CERN experiments have determined that the pine trees can lead to cloud formation and thus the rainfall; the results of the research imply that adjustments to the climate change predictions are due.

Trees Cause Cloud Formation

The vapors rising form the pine trees mix with atmospheric oxygen. The particles formed as a result of this combination can come together when cosmic rays fall upon them. Thus, the vapors can lead to the cloud formation. The study also reveals the role played by the cosmic rays in the determination of the Earth’s climate.

Previously, the cloud formation was attributed to the sulfurous compounds added to the air due to human activities. Thus, it was assumed by the scientific community that the skies would have been much clearer in the ancient times. The recent studies of CERN published in Nature negate this idea and suggest the presence of clouds even before humans polluted the atmosphere. From this perspective, the theory that suggests that heat increase and temperature rise lead to climate change becomes relatively debatable.



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Image Source: CERN


A particle physicist at CERN, Jasper Kirkby explained that the study indicates a decrease in the rise of temperature. Though the temperature rise will not be entirely nullified, it will indeed undergo a decline.

The CLOUD Experiment

CERN initiated work on the CLOUD experiment in 2009. The aim of the project was to observe how the cosmic rays from the sun interact with our atmosphere. The large stainless steels chambers provided a perfect control environment for the researchers to test various conditions.


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Image Source: CERN


The high school science taught us that the cloud formation was brought about by the condensation of water droplets around airborne particles. The particles provide a condensation site for the water molecules and may be dust, or any other air pollutant. The scientists believed that more than half the cloud droplets came from the sulfurous particles, the leftover of the fossil fuel emissions.

Since the clouds reflect the sunlight and help to lower the temperature of the Earth, therefore, it was considered that the addition of sulfuric acid is balancing the temperature increase due to fossil fuel emissions.


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Image Source: CERN


The researchers emulated a perfect, sulfuric acid-free atmosphere inside the CLOUD chamber at CERN and proved that a combination of pine trees and cosmic rays were enough to produce the necessary conditions for cloud formation. Therefore, pollution has been ruled out as the sole reason for cloud formation; all it needs to form clouds is trees!

Implications of the CLOUD Experiment

Since the scientist had always associated cloud formation to the industrial revolution and main scale adoption of the fossil fuels, therefore the climate models place a high emphasis on the abundance of the pollution, greenhouse gas production, etc. As a result, current models to predict the climate changes occurring across Earth become defective.

By incorporating the findings of this study in the climate model, the difference between the pre-industrial revolution climate and the present day cloudiness can be diminished, leading to reduced climate sensitivity and thus, the predicted temperature projections for the Earth. In simple words, as Kirkby puts it:

“It means that the climate is less sensitive than we thought,”

The size and scope of impact of these findings on the climate change model are yet to be investigated. However, Kirkby warns that the overall impact will not be significant enough to nullify the current temperature increase predictions.


Making Clouds From Pine Trees And Its Implications On Climate Change_Image 5

Image Source: CERN


Some of the findings of the CERN CLOUD experiment have been reinforced by an independent study by the Jungfraujoch Research Station published in Science. The researchers from the Institute examined the formation of aerosol particles in the Swiss Alps and determined that the vapors for clouds could still be formed if the sulfuric acid concentration in the atmosphere is very small.

Ultimately, the most significant conclusion of these studies is that trees might be able to salvage our future from the looming threat of the climate change by controlling the rainfall.


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