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 user 2007-03-06 at 10:26:00 am Views: 58
  • #17720

    Global impact of Asia’s pollution
    pollution coming from Asia is having a wider effect on global weather
    and climate than previously realised, research suggests.The “Asian
    haze” of soot is boosting storms in the Pacific, scientists find.It is
    also enhancing the growth of large clouds, which play a key role in
    regulating climate globally.Writing in the journal Proceedings of the
    National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), the researchers say impacts may be
    felt as far away as the Arctic.”It’s a complex picture,” observed study
    leader Renyi Zhang from Texas A&M University in College Station,
    US.”But the bottom line is that the aerosols actually enhance
    convection and increase precipitation over a large domain,” he told the
    BBC News website

    Hot water
    clean air legislation has reduced production of industrial aerosols -
    fine particles of dust, soot and sulphur – in Europe and North America,
    the opposite trend is seen in Asia.Here, rapid industrialisation has
    led to the formation of a pollution haze which is especially marked in
    winter as coal burning increases.Sulphur emissions have increased by
    more than one-third over the last decade.These aerosols drive cloud
    formation, as water droplets coalesce around the tiny particles.When
    aerosols are abundant, the droplets stay too small to form rain. Under
    these conditions, clouds may grow bigger and last for longer.When the
    clouds are of the type known as deep convective clouds, this means they
    also transmit more heat from the Earth’s surface into the higher
    atmosphere.Deep convective clouds play a key role in regulating the
    global climate; and the role of aerosols in cloud development remains
    the major uncertainty in forecasting climate change.

    Clouding up
    the latest research, Professor Zhang and his colleagues used satellite
    records to show that the amount of deep convective clouds over the
    north Pacific has increased.Coverage for the period 1994-2005 was
    between 20% and 50% higher than in the preceding decade.With increased
    clouds and increased convection came a growth in storminess – the
    “storm track” – over the ocean.Computer models suggest that the trends
    are being driven by Asian aerosol production, rather than by other
    factors such as changes in ocean temperature.”The storm track regulates
    the jet stream,” commented Professor Zhang. “And if more heat is being
    transported from lower to higher latitudes, that is going to have a
    large effect on the global circulation.”But the link between clouds and
    aerosols works in the opposite direction too. Clouds transport the tiny
    particles, and more abundant and persistent clouds will transport them
    further – even to polar regions, Professor Zhang suggests.Some studies
    have suggested that accumulation of these particles is changing the
    properties of Arctic ice, making it absorb more of the Sun’s
    energy.This would mean the ice is more prone to melting, as well as
    reducing the Earth’s capacity to reflect solar energy back into space.