RICHLAND, Wash. — A new climate study says pollution in Asia can influence weather over much of the world.
Researchers from Pacific Northwest National Laboratory helped develop a new type of climate model that was used to develop the study. It was published in the current issue of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Research for the study zeroed in on fine particles called aerosols. Coal-burning plants emit aerosols, which float up in the air. Clouds form around that pollution.
“Downstream from Asia, we found significant intensification of storms because of the aerosol particles,” said Steve Ghan, climate scientist at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory in Richland, Wash.
The climate model incorporates two different models to make more accurate simulations, Ghan said.
The clouds that form around these aersol particles tend to be brighter. And that reflects heat away from the Earth, researches said.
There could be an unintended consequence of cracking down on air pollution from China’s coal plant smoke stacks: That would make those clouds darker.
Darker clouds reflect less heat. And that, Ghan said, could actually increase global warming effects.
“We think that we haven’t felt the full effect of the global greenhouse gases,” Ghan said. “The aerosol concentrations respond very quickly to changes in the emissions. If China cleans up the emissions, we’ll feel much more of the warming than we have in the past.”
Ghan also said aerosols could make hurricanes stronger.
He said the team of researchers, including scientists from Texas A&M University, NASA and the University of California at San Diego, will wait for others to replicate their research.