Our air pollution *weakens* hurricanes (but makes them wetter).

Science Daily says “aerosols produced by human activities” – that is, soot and exhaust fumes and all that great air pollution – definitely has an effect on the weather. It’s just not the one you might expect:

Renyi Zhang, University Distinguished Professor in Atmospheric Sciences at Texas A&M, and colleagues Yuan Wang, Keun-Hee Lee, Yun Lin and Misty Levy … found that aerosols tend to weaken the development of hurricanes (tropical storms that form in the Atlantic Ocean) or typhoons (those formed in the Pacific). They also found that aerosols tend to cause a hurricane to fall apart earlier and wind speeds are lower than storms where anthropogenic aerosols are not present.

On average, there are about 90 hurricanes or cyclones that form each year around the world, meaning their findings could be crucial in how we evaluate and prepare for destructive tropical storms.
“The results are surprising,” Zhang says, “because other studies have leaned global warming by greenhouse gases makes hurricanes more intense and frequent. We found that aerosols may operate oppositely than greenhouse gases in terms of influencing hurricanes.

“Another thing we find, however, is that aerosols appear to increase the amount of precipitation in a hurricane or typhoon. The rainbands associated with such tropical storms seem to be larger and stronger.”

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