Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Yellow Peril

China's exporting more than cheap goods to the USA, say the science guys:

Asia's growing air pollution -- billowing million-ton plumes of soot, smog and wood smoke -- is making the Pacific region cloudier and stormier, disrupting winter-weather patterns along the West Coast and into the Arctic, researchers reported Monday.

Carried on prevailing winds, the industrial outpouring of dust, sulfur, carbon grit and trace metals from booming Asian economies is having an intercontinental cloud-seeding effect, the scientists reported in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

"The pollution transported from Asia makes storms stronger and deeper and more energetic," said lead author Renyi Zhang at Texas A&M University. "It is a direct link from large-scale storm systems to [human-produced] pollution."

Satellite measurements reveal that high-altitude storm clouds over the northern Pacific have increased up to 50 percent over the past 20 years, as new factories, vehicles and power plants in China and India spew growing amounts of microscopic pollutant particles.

The resulting changes have altered how rain droplets form and helped foster the creation of imposing formations over the northern Pacific known as "deep convective clouds."

The clouds create powerful updrafts that spawn fiercer thunderstorms and more intense rainfall, particularly through the winter months, the researchers said.

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