Key Idea Airborne particles, called "aerosols," have a complex effect on Earth's energy balance: they can cause both cooling, by reflecting incoming sunlight back out to space, and warming, by absorbing heat energy in the atmosphere. Small solid and liquid particles can be lofted into the atmosphere through a variety of natural and man-made processes, including volcanic eruptions, sea spray, forest fires, and emissions generated through human activities. (Climate Literacy Principle 2E)

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