January 21, 2014

Asian Air Pollution Affecting World’s Weather

Extreme air pollution in Asia is affecting the world’s weather and climate patterns, according to a study by Texas A&M University and NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory researchers.

Yuan Wang, a former doctoral student at Texas A&M, along with Texas A&M atmospheric sciences professors Renyi Zhang and R. Saravanan, have had their findings published in the current issue of Nature Communications.

Satellite photo shows  huge air pollution clouds at far left.   Japan is on the right.

Satellite photo shows huge air pollution clouds at far left. Japan is on the right. (Photo: NASA JPL)

Using climate models and data collected about aerosols and meteorology over the past 30 years, the researchers found that air pollution over Asia – much of it coming from China – is impacting global air circulations.

“The models clearly show that pollution originating from Asia has an impact on the upper atmosphere and it appears to make such storms or cyclones even stronger,” Zhang explains.

“This pollution affects cloud formations, precipitation, storm intensity and other factors and eventually impacts climate.  Most likely, pollution from Asia can have important consequences on the weather pattern here over North America.”

China’s booming economy during the last 30 years has led to the building of enormous manufacturing factories, industrial plants, power plants and other facilities that produce huge amounts of air pollutants.  Once emitted into the atmosphere, pollutant particles affect cloud formations and weather systems worldwide, the study shows.

Increases in coal burning and car emissions are major sources of pollution in China and other Asian countries.

Air pollution levels in some Chinese cities, such as Beijing, are often more than 100 times higher than acceptable limits set by the World Health Organization standards, Zhang says.

One study has shown that lung cancer rates have increased 400 percent in some areas due to the ever-growing pollution problem.

Conditions tend to worsen during winter months when a combination of stagnant weather patterns mixed with increased coal burning in many Asian cities can create pollution and smog that can last for weeks.  The Chinese government has pledged to toughen pollution standards and to commit sufficient financial resources to attack the problem.

Two Chinese cylcists ride near factory in northern China

Two Chinese cyclists ride near factory in northern China ( Photo: Epoch Times)

“The models we have used and our data are very consistent with the results we have reached,” Saravanan says.

“Huge amounts of aerosols from Asia go as high as six miles up in the atmosphere and these have an unmistakable impact on cloud formations and weather.”

Zhang adds that “we need to do some future research on exactly how these aerosols are transported globally and impact climate. There are many other atmospheric observations and models we need to look at to see how this entire process works.”

Yuan Wang, who conducted the research with Zhang while at Texas A&M, currently works at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory as a Caltech Postdoctoral Scholar.

The study was funded by grants from NASA, Texas A&M’s Supercomputing facilities and the Ministry of Science and Technology of China.

Media contact: Keith Randall, News & Information Services, Texas A&M, at (979) 845-4644 or Renyi Zhang at (979) 845-7656 or R. Saravanan at (979) 845-0175 or Alan Buis, JPL media contact, at (818) 354-0474

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34 Comments to Asian Air Pollution Affecting World’s Weather

  1. Can you specify which layers of the atmosphere you mean when saying “upper atmosphere”?
    As far as i know cloudformation and weather patterns happen mostly in the troposphere and the big polar currents are in the tropopause and stratosphere, but the whole atmosphere is significantally larger then this.

  2. Carl Blyweert on January 22nd, 2014
  3. Al Gore spoke about the Global Warming, and spoke about us causing some harm, but I believe China is doing the most harm to the world from this story and the photo’s I’ve seen. Pray comes up in 144 verses in the NIV Bible and 306 verses in the King James Bible. We hare in America need to do alot of Praying for our Nation as well as other Nations, and that the leaders of both will take some action to help all people involved in living in this world!

  4. JAMES STAMPER JR. on January 23rd, 2014
  5. Praying will not help, activism will.

  6. Foomanshoe on January 25th, 2014
  7. Praying isn’t going to fix anything. If you’re going to preach anything, preach about living responsibly and sustainably on this planet.

  8. John Smith on January 25th, 2014
  9. @James_Stamper_JR: Praying will get us nowhere. What the people of China and other nations around the world need to do is stand up, take action, and let their leaders know that they will not tolerate such blatant pollution and desecration of the natural environment. Additionally, China exports a huge proportion of the goods made in those factories, and thus it isn’t really the Chinese who are responsible for such terrible air quality and its impact on the climate, but us, the consumers, and the corporations who supply those goods. Those of us here in the US, Europe and other developed nations who expect cheap goods take advantage of the Chinese and relegate the country to the world’s factory at an extreme cost. We need to vote with our shopping and either buy from other countries or demand that our products are made in sustainably-run facilities.

  10. ChinaNerd on January 25th, 2014
  11. Pretty sure we need to do more then pray. Like maybe anything.

  12. Robert Cain on January 25th, 2014
  13. Thank you TAMU for finally “hitting the nail on the head” by denouncing the world’s biggest polluter!

    This “elephant in the room” that has done so much damage to our atmosphere has never been “outed” in mainstream media because they are too invested with lobby groups who are paying their bills to write green propaganda!

    Again Thank You!

  14. thebiggreenlie on January 25th, 2014
  15. This pollution may look like a view from America’s past when industry was young, but it is more likely a preview of our future.

    On the bright side, within a few generations asthma will have been largely eliminated from the human gene pool!

  16. Pessimystic on January 25th, 2014
  17. Praying does nothing…..Besides, the world is going to end anyway…according to a blood cult based of bronze age hebrew mythology.

  18. Sanity on January 25th, 2014
  19. Davos: Many have called for a price on carbon Now we must act #Energy #Agenda 2014 http://climatestate.com/2014/01/24/davos-many-have-called-for-a-price-on-carbon-now-we-must-act-energy-agenda-2014/

  20. Chris on January 25th, 2014
  21. Yeah, James, praying is the answer to these problems.

  22. Mark Anton on January 25th, 2014
  23. In reponse to Carl, typically when they are referencing the “Upper Atmosphere” as it pertains to weather, they mean areas from 700mb to 200mb. So, roughly 10,000ft to 40,000ft. There are different spheres above the troposphere as you mentioned, but when someone references weather, they’re exclusively talking about areas from the surface to the tropopause.

  24. Adam on January 25th, 2014
  25. I fully agree with James. Prayer is the solution to everything. No need to do anything.

  26. Marcus on January 26th, 2014
  27. ‘God’ wont solve this human made issue. Only humans can. Prayer may make you feel better but does nothing to help the problem.

  28. Brian on January 26th, 2014
  29. @James: What does prayer have to do with pollution? And who cares how many times it is in the Bible, or what version. Why is it just American that has a lot of praying to do? What’s wrong with other countries? The leaders of both? How about us? Instead of useless prayer, get out and do something.

  30. Adam on January 26th, 2014
  31. @ James Stamper Jr.

    After you’re done praying, we can go ahead and actually do something useful. China will not change their policy’s until they are forced to.

  32. Rekless on January 26th, 2014
  33. “Huge amounts of aerosols from Asia go as high as six miles up in the atmosphere and these have an unmistakable impact on cloud formations and weather.”

    It’s very fatal for us!!

  34. mehedi44 on January 26th, 2014
  35. Save your prayers, we as a global species need to take action.

  36. Dan on January 26th, 2014
  37. Yes China has masses of pollution in comparison to the rest of the world, and it’s only going as high as 9.7 kms, that is well within the area were clouds form (the troposphere). But you can’t deny that the rest of the word hasn’t played its part over the years, and I really don’t have an ounce of faith in China to try and rectify their pollution problem, THE only time I’ll believe China is working to do anything about it is when there are actions and not just hot air! (no pun intended). As far as I’m concerned China is just strait out lying, have you seen the price of Diesel fuel recently? It’s because alot of the Asian countries are running Diesel power plants as well as Coal. Australia is no angel by no means, but we have taken action to tackle climate change (even though our current PM thinks climate change is a myth and is trying to repeal the measures taken by the former Government in the next seating of parliament) most of the country (general populace) has taken measures to cut back on the amount of crap pumped into the atmosphere by using other ways to generate power (solar & generators running off water pressure), and hell I’ve connected a dynamo on an exercise bike and I charge a battery that then charges my cell phone and tablet rather than using the mains power.

  38. Antony K Sn on January 26th, 2014
  39. Well, the root of the problem not in China. We have two big problems, consumption process and overpopulation.

  40. Daniel Rodichev on January 26th, 2014
  41. Australia sells millions of tons of coal to China which makes Australia a liability in climate change. Maybe even number 1 liability?

  42. Peter Lane on January 26th, 2014
  43. _Air pollution levels in some Chinese cities, such as Beijing, are often more than 100 times higher than acceptable limits set by the World Health Organization standards, Zhang says._

    I think this is off by a factor of 10. The acceptable limit for PM2.5. is set to 25 ug/m3, so 100 times would be 2500 ug/m3 which is unheard of. It is however very common to be above 250 ug/m3 (which is still very very bad).



  44. Ricky on January 26th, 2014
  45. The Chinese are known for there enmasse swing shifts in policy. They move as one. The Chinese are also very conservative. With that said, it wont be till the harm they are causing themselves affects their rulling class’s that they will change. The chinese are at the tipping point, they are close, but it will be another 5-20 years before they change their ways. Time is not on their side. Feeding the west’s insatiable hunger for widgets amd crap will eventually catch up to them, when the cost benefit ratio flips then they will have a paradigm shift.

  46. Michael Brito on January 26th, 2014
  47. “America need to do alot of Praying for our Nation”

    Praying is good, but it’s useless without action.

  48. joe smith on January 26th, 2014
  49. Jeez… Thanks a lot, China.

    Their smog is one of the main reasons for the occasional acid rain in South Korea and Japan.

  50. Jesus on January 26th, 2014
  51. Don’t forget that it’s china producing the majority of polution because almost all other nations moved their factories there.

  52. James on January 26th, 2014
  53. James, while I appreciate your overall viewpoint, we need to do a hell of a lot more than “pray someone does something”. We all need to do something. China may produce a lot of CO2, but it does so in large part to feed the appetite of consumers in North America and Europe.

    Political action is necessary, but so is personal action.

    Buy less sh*t. How many things in your room right now probably came from China? How many of them have you used only a handful of times, if ever.

    Either way, pray all you want, but make sure you do something with clear immediate results on top of it.

  54. Brian on January 26th, 2014
  55. Yeah I’m sure prayer will solve every problem . . . maybe we should think about sacrificing some goats as well.

  56. skeptic on January 26th, 2014
  57. We also need to seriously change our consumption of animals. Accounting for more pollution than all of transportation put together animal agriculture is out of hand and adding to the decline of our planet. Don’t deny that our eating habits are a serious problem for the planet.

  58. David on January 26th, 2014
  59. Praying is certainly easy and satisfying. Unfortunately, it isn’t going to actually *do* anything about pollution. I’m afraid we need more concrete action than just wishing things would change…

  60. Tom Human on January 26th, 2014
  61. GoodJobCarl. It sounded like you knew what you were talking about and then you went and used the wrong than.


  62. GoodJobCarl on January 26th, 2014
  63. What do you own that wasn’t made in China? America has as much a role in global pollution as China does. The only difference being, we outsource our pollution. This is the real price of cheap goods.
    Reigning in our foreign imports and bringing jobs back to America, where we can regulate those factories that pump toxins into our atmosphere, I think is a step in the right direction.

  64. David Gwinn, Jr. on January 26th, 2014
  65. Praying DOES do something. It increases the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere ….

  66. john tucker on January 26th, 2014
  67. Yes , it IS China’s fault.

    I live here in China and the problem is not policy , culture , or anything like that. It’s the simple fact that government officials are for sale here.

    Nobody in China is happy about any of this either. Unfortunately what the people in China know and the people around the world accuse the Chinese government of being is corrupt. The Chinese government has reasonable rules about environmental pollution just like every other country does. The problem is that if you own a factory then you can buy permission to pollute to your heart’s desire. There are places where absolutely every single person KNOWS that the local factory is making the water undrinkable. It can be proven using scientific methods and this evidence is then presented to the relevant official. Promises of action are made and then the factory owner shows up , pays the top people , hires a gang to beat the bottom people , and the water remains undrinkable.

    That’s the problem.

  68. Funcuz on January 28th, 2014
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