Written By: Jim Greenberg
Asia’s growing air pollution, mainly a result of burning fossil fuels, is affecting global weather and climate patterns, reveals new study.
Using climate models and data collection on aerosols and meteorology over the past 30 years, scientists have found that air pollution released from Asia, and from China in particular, is influencing global air circulations.
Published in the latest issue of Nature Communications, results show that pollution from Asia is impacting the upper atmosphere (the thermosphere), which has created stronger cyclones and storms around the globe.
“This [air] pollution affects cloud formations, precipitation, storm intensity, and other factors, and eventually impacts [the] climate”, says Renyi Zhang, co-author of the study and one of Texas A&M University’s atmospheric science professors. “Most likely, pollution from Asia [will] have important consequences on the weather pattern here over North America.”
Over the last 30 years, China’s economy has grown significantly, which has led to the burning of huge amount of fossil fuels and resulted in high levels of air pollution. This pollution is emitted into the atmosphere, where it builds up and affects cloud formations and weather systems on a global scale.
“Huge amounts of aerosols from Asia go as high as six miles up [into] the atmosphere, and these have an unmistakable impact on cloud formations and weather”, says Yuan Wang, one of the study’s authors and Caltech Postdoctoral Scholar of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.
The study was funded by grants from NASA, Texas A&M’s supercomputing facilities, and the Ministry of Science and Technology of China. Scientists behind the study say that further research needs to be done in order to analyze exactly how Asia’s aerosols are transported globally and what long-term effects they will have on the climate.