Cloudy, With a Chance of Powers
As Asian economies grow, increased pollution affecting world’s weather
Scientists say smog from Asia is drifting east, seeding storm clouds, and intensifying weather in the Pacific. On a typical spring or summer day, they say, nearly a third of the air high above the U.S. West Coast comes from Asia. And according to a report in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, high-altitude storm clouds in the northern Pacific have increased as much as 50 percent in the last 20 years. “The pollution transported from Asia makes storms stronger and deeper and more energetic,” said lead author Renyi Zhang of Texas A&M University. “It is a direct link from large-scale storm systems to [human-produced] pollution.” The trend could affect climate change, with soot-filled warm air potentially making Arctic ice melt faster. With new stats from China indicating that the country will overtake the U.S. as the world’s biggest greenhouse-gas emitter as soon as this year, things are looking bleak. But hey — we’re gonna be No. 2, and we didn’t even have to lift a finger!