Could Meteorites & Dust Contribute to Climate Change?

Clouds over a summer in Maryland.

While watching a show on the Science channel about the planets (I believe the show is actually called “The Planets”) we learned about various global astronomers’ theories regarding how the planets were formed.  In part, a lot of them suggest that planets formed by smacking into objects to increase size, density, change orbits, etc.  During this, I had one question come to mind:

Could meteorites that enter into the earth’s atmosphere have the ability to affect the earth’s weather/climate patterns?

According to Curious About Astronomy, 37,000-78,000 tons (assuming metric tons, that is 78,000,000 KG) of material falls upon the Earth.  Now it’s not just meteorites, but dust-sized particles.  A lot of meteorites burn up in the earth’s atmosphere, but that doesn’t mean the matter is lost… Is it not retained in the world – surface and atmosphere?  Another study made available in 1996 suggested that 1.5 x 10^11 gm of extraterrestrial dust accumulates on the surface of the earth.  That equates to 150,000,000 KG of material.  In perspective, that’s about 21,428 African Elephants worth of material that never existed on this planet.

I don’t know about you, but that sounds like a LOT of extra mass that adds to the Earth’s total weight.  But it’s on the surface; it doesn’t necessarily go into the core.  So wouldn’t this potentially have an effect of what’s going on in our climate, adding to the crust or increasing the size of our atmosphere?  Especially if it’s true that my personal, minor environmental changes could change or affect the ecosystem on earth and such?  When you add more energy or heat to something, it becomes more massive, wouldn’t this qualify?  It’s a big world with a lot of surface to cover, but it only takes one more drop of water to freeze on a branch to have it break off (something I learned living in Vermont during an ice storm in 1998 that devastated forests around the state).

So this said, could it be a possible theory that in addition to what we are putting into our own atmosphere that meteorites & extraterrestrial dust also have been contributing to changing our earth’s weather and climate?

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