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article imageNew study shows how Asian air pollution affects the weather

By Karen Graham     Apr 14, 2014 in Environment
In the first study of its kind, researchers have compared pollution rates from 1850 through 2000, and have discovered that man-made pollutants from Asian countries are impacting weather patterns in the Northern Hemisphere.
Scientists, including a team from Texas A&M University, published their finding in the latest issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS). According to ScienceDaily, Yuan Wang, Yun Lin, Jiaxi Hu, Bowen Pan, Misti Levy and Renyi Zhang of Texas A&M's Department of Atmospheric Sciences, and researchers from the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, the University of California, San Diego and NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, contributed to the work.
The research team found that anthropogenic, or human-made particles from Asia are strengthening storms over the Pacific Ocean and feeding into other weather systems around the world. Lead author Yuan Wang, said, "The effects are quite dramatic. The pollution results in thicker and taller clouds and heavier precipitation."
Using data from the 1850's, termed "pre-industrial," and data from 2000, termed "present day," the team compiled information that conclusively proved that anthropogenic aerosols impact cloud formations and mid-latitude cyclones along the Pacific storm track.
Renyi Zhang, one of the researchers, said of the findings, "There appears to be little doubt that these particles from Asia affect storms sweeping across the Pacific and subsequently the weather patterns in North America and the rest of the world."
"The climate model is quite clear on this point. The aerosols formed by human activities from fast-growing Asian economies do impact storm formation and global air circulation downstream. They tend to make storms deeper and stronger and more intense, and these storms also have more precipitation in them. We believe this is the first time that a study has provided such a global perspective," Zhang said.
Even though China is in the midst of developing an industrial economy, along with increasing urbanization has come a reliance on coal, the dirtiest energy source we have. This has made China the world's largest user of coal, and the largest producer of greenhouse gases. Looking at the bigger picture, the Asian continent is the biggest producer of greenhouse gases of all seven continents.
The researchers findings show Asia's high level of pollution impacts worldwide weather patterns. Compiling and analyzing meteorological data and climate models from the last thirty years, Yuan Wang and his team found that "Asian air pollution rises six miles into the upper atmosphere and affects cloud formation and storm intensity, which in turn impacts global air circulations and climate."
After simulations were run on a supercomputer, it could be seen that the strengths of storms over the Pacific-Northwest of the North American continent became greater, and precipitation was increased by seven percent when influenced by Asian pollution. All this data points to the fact that pollution is not the responsibility of any one country, put is a global problem.
More about Air pollution, New study, northern hemisphere, Weather patterns, asian economies
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