September 27, 2022

Reducing aerosol pollution has led to more hurricanes in the North Atlantic, study shows

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O New study A report published Wednesday in the journal Science Advances found a 50 percent reduction in aerosols over the past four decades – small particles of air pollution – and a 33 percent increase in the number of tropical storms in the North Atlantic Ocean in North America and Europe. Increased.

On On the other side of the world, the study shows that a 40% increase in aerosol pollution in China and India at the same time led to a 14% reduction in the number of tropical storms in the western North Pacific. During this period, air pollution in China and India increased significantly due to the economic and industrial development of the countries.

“Reducing aerosol emissions is something that is good for human health; but on the other hand, we have noticed that when we reduce aerosol emissions it has some bad effects – and that is hurricanes. Activity, “Hero Murakami, the study’s lead author and a scientist. At the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Geophysical Flood Dynamics Laboratory, he told CNN.

Aerosols are not like greenhouse gases. They are tiny particles of pollution that float in the air and, unlike carbon dioxide or methane, absorb sunlight and cause heat. Reflection of sunlight Back in space, which has a cooling effect. Natural aerosols exist, but since the early 20th century, most pollution has come from sources such as industrial fumes and car emissions.

Morakami found that as aerosol pollution decreased over the decades following the United States Clean Air Act and similar measures in Europe, the oceans could absorb more sunlight, causing sea levels to warm. Temperatures rise, causing more storms.

Morakami warned that the results did not mean that we should stop controlling air pollution. “Reducing aerosol emissions is like quitting smoking,” he said. When a person quits smoking, he improves his health and can prevent cancer. But in some cases, quitting can have side effects, including weight gain and feeling stressed.

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“The aerosol shortage is actually like that,” he said. “Lack of aerosols can lead to good health, but on the other hand, the risk of hurricanes increases. This is where good things go with bad things. These are the advantages and disadvantages.”

Jim Cosson, a senior hurricane scientist with the Meteorological Service who reviewed the study, said the study was important in differentiating how hurricanes respond to air pollution more than greenhouse gases.

“Equatorial storms are fairly random animals, and they respond to the random nature of the atmosphere at any time,” Cousin told CNN. “But of course, this constant ocean warming in the Atlantic Ocean, which is being caused by an increase in greenhouse gases and a decrease in particulate matter pollution, has a profound effect – and a lot of changes in particulate matter pollution. More dramatic effects. Hurricanes. “

Other scientists not involved in the study told CNN that the findings are based on what they know about the complex nature of air pollution, and that they add to the growing body of research into what Like Climate crisis can affect hurricanes..

“This study demonstrates very well that the effect of aerosols on the Atlantic Ocean is not isolated, but involves a global change in the distribution of tropical storms,” ​​Gabriel Vicki, a professor of meteorology and geosciences at Princeton University, told CNN. told. “Aerosols are one of the most uncertain elements of the climate system, so I think there should be – and I predict there will be – follow-up studies on the consequences of aerosol-related uncertainties. Find the sensitivity of. “

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Tom Nietzsche, a senior scientist at NOAA’s Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory who was not involved in the study, said aerosol pollution is another important way that humans have changed hurricane activity over the past 40 years.

“It’s like an aerosol created some kind of holiday from a hurricane in the Atlantic Ocean, but then when we forced the aerosol down, it somehow came back,” Knutson told CNN. Told CNN. “We have a lot of things that we think are going to the Atlantic, and this paper is one of those that are trying to touch on the relative effects of these different things.”

Morakami said he predicts that aerosol pollution will remain stable, so greenhouse gas emissions will begin to have a stronger effect on hurricanes over time – especially at their severity.

“Climate science is very complex and this work is ongoing, especially for hurricane activity,” Morakami said. “What we have seen in the last 40 years may not be applicable to the future, so we may see something very different.”

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