Aerosols Aggravate Severe Storms and Obstruct Gentle Rains

A new study led by University of Maryland researchers has found that increase in particulate matter and air pollution in the earth’s atmosphere is leading to severe storms in wet regions and drought in dry regions.

Aerosols, which include dust, soot and sulfate particles are tiny liquid or solid particles that are suspended in air. They are caused due to burning of forests and fields, agricultural and industrial processes and fossil fuel combustion. They affect human health, weather, climate, environment, Earth's surface temperature, atmospheric stability and cloud microphysics.

The study led by a professor of atmospheric and oceanic science at Maryland, Zhanqing Li, used 10-year data of atmospheric measurements and discovered the long-term affect of aerosols on cloud thickness and height. Results from a cloud-resolving computer model supported the study’s findings. Air pollution and atmospheric particulate matter increase rainfall, snow and storms in wet seasons and regions, and in dry regions, they reduce precipitation. They were, thus, exacerbating severe storms while obstructing gentle rains.

The economic gains of new power plants, industries, and urbanization are undermined by their detrimental effect on climate and weather due to an increase in pollution. The chair of the Joint Scientific Committee of the World Climate Research Program, Tony Busalacchi, stated that study findings advanced the understanding of interactions between aerosols, clouds and precipitation and will help sustainable development and climate science.

The study revealed the importance of maintaining measurements over long periods for understanding the detrimental implications of aerosols. The study also calls for the need to address environmental and climatic changes, including nitrogen, hydrocarbon and sulfur emissions.

Source: http://www.umd.edu/

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