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Watch as Asian Air Pollution Chokes the World

Jan 31, 2015 04:04 PM EST
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Beijing and Delhi are two cities infamous for their thick and dangerous waves of tainted air - dirtied by smog, ash, and other aerosols. Unfortunately for the rest of the world, this pollution doesn't just sit still. NASA has recently released a stunning video that shows how Asian pollution is changing weather and climate around the globe.

The video (below) was created using a powerful numerical model that included weather factors such as temperature, precipitation, and barometric pressure over the Pacific Ocean. It displays how the pollutants that choke Asia have influenced these factors.

China in particular was found to have a surprising amount of influence over global weather patterns.

"We found that pollution from China affects cloud development in the North Pacific and strengthens extratropical cyclones," Yuan Wang, a postdoctoral fellow working with NASA's Jonathan Jiang, explained in a statement.

The researcher found that over the last three decades, clouds over the Pacific Ocean have grown deeper, and storms in the Northwest Pacific have become about 10 percent stronger. Interestingly, this started around the same time frame as the economic boom in Asia.

Increased levels of polluting aerosols, particularly from coal burning and the slash and burn agricultural practices of China, find their way into storm systems. These particulates then can have more water condense onto them, resulting in heavier rainfall while simultaneously generating a lot more energy, which spurs air upward and downward airflows within a cloud, creating ideal storm conditions. (Scroll to read on...)


[Credit: NASA Goddard Space Flight Center ]

Wang even thinks that the intensely cold winter that the US East Coast endured in 2013 could have been driven by frequent storm systems in the Pacific - systems that may not have been if it weren't for Asia's pollution problem.

Jiang added that this revelation could change climatologists' perspective on the world.

Before experts focused on the terrestrial land differences between the Northern and Southern Hemispheres.

"That difference is important to global atmospheric circulation," he explained. "Now, in addition to that, there's a West-East contrast. Europe and North America are reducing emissions; Asia is increasing them. That change also affects the global circulation and perturbs the climate."

Still, it's important to note that Beijing and Delhi are not the direct culprits, merely the first victims of shifting air pollution within their respective nations. As part of China's attempt to at least dull the impact of thier carbon and pollution footprint, the city of Beijing has sworn to abandon coal power entirely by 2020. And while that may sound like an empty promise, the city has already reduced coal power to a mere 10 percent of the capital's electricity supply.

Meanwhile, the WHO reported back in May that Delhi's air pollution problem is driven by car exhaust more than anything else. What's more, these two cities are simply some of the worst in what is a global problem, with only about one in 10 urbanites across the world breathing air that can meet the WHO's recommended safety levels.

The international organization reported that between ozone troubles and rampant pollution, China and the United States continue to have the most citizens endangered by air pollution among world powers.

For more great nature science stories and general news, please visit our sister site, Headlines and Global News (HNGN).

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