Asian Air Pollution Is Messing Up Our Weather
By Courtney Flannery 2014-04-15 15:20:38
Pollution is gross. If you've ever been in a major city and watched the hazy sunrise that is chock full of smog, you're well aware of how gross. It's definitely not majestic at all and makes me miss my days of living on a farm and being able to actually breathe. Apparently, pollution is not only bad for your lungs and the environment, but it may be causing more severe and extreme weather, too.
According to Fox News , pollution coming from China's coal-burning power plants may be responsible for the increase in strength and frequency of bad weather in North America. The emissions are churning up more intense weather over the Pacific Ocean that changes our weather patterns. NASA researchers lead by Yuan Wang discovered that Northwest Pacific storms are 10% stronger than thirty years ago, which is before industry had a major boom in Asia. The air pollution in Beijing is currently 400 times higher than the World Health Organization's upper limit of what is considered safe. China is also the largest consumer of coal in the entire world so it isn't surprising that there is a huge amount of toxic air there.
The scientists examined how the tiny particulates play a role in weather formation and how storms churn up just east of Japan, a place where there are a lot of cyclones forming. They analyzed six different types of aerosol particles and ran computer models to show how they affect clouds, precipitation and overall global weather patterns. Each of the different aerosols had a different affect, from blocking the sun's rays to making a nucleus that water vapor can turn into rain.
Remember the Polar Vortex this winter? Apparently the unusually cold weather east of the Rocky Mountains was likely influenced by this Asian pollution by forming cyclones and high pressure systems over the Pacific. The jet stream was forced to dip down which made the country feel a lot like the inside of a freezer. Strangely, record high temperatures in Alaska can also be blamed on the same problem.
The research team is continuing to figure out how the pollution will affect global weather patterns in the future, and how it could be affecting places outside of the United States. So what exactly does this mean for our weather the rest of the year? I hope that it doesn't mean what I think it does. More tornadoes and thunderstorms are the last things the MidWest needs. Hopefully this research can help scientists develop better equipment to deal with pollution and make our air cleaner and safer. Otherwise next winter we all may end up like Steve Rogers and wake up in 95 years looking for our iPhones and hiding from Game of Thrones spoilers.