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Reducing air pollution has made hurricanes stronger

Reducing air pollution has made hurricanes stronger

CLIMATEWIRE | Hurricane activity is changing around the world largely due to climate change. Cyclones are intensifying, intensifying faster, emitting more rainfall and migrating to different regions of the oceans.

But global warming is not the only human activity. Air pollution also has a significant impact on the formation of hurricanes, according to Fr. new study.

Over the past four decades, air pollution has declined in Europe and the United States with the adoption of stricter air quality regulations. And it had an unexpected side effect. Decreased pollution has caused an increase in the frequency of tropical cyclones across the North Atlantic.

At the same time, pollution levels have risen in much of South and East Asia. And it also had an unexpected impact. Tropical cyclone activity has declined in the western North Pacific.

A new study is not the first to suggest a link between air pollution and hurricane activity. It is well known that aerosols have a physical effect on the atmosphere.

Much of the pollution that is usually generated by industrial activities actually has a cooling effect on the atmosphere by reflecting sunlight from the Earth. In some cases, this effect can also alter the flow of airflows around the world.

However, a new study published yesterday by NOAA cyclone expert Hiroyuki Murakami is one of the first to investigate specific physical connections between aerosols and hurricanes around the world using climate models.

In the North Atlantic, he found that declining pollution had several consequences. As the cooling effect disappeared, the temperature rose. Warmer ocean water provides more fuel for hurricanes, leading to more storms.

At the same time, warming has also altered atmospheric circulation and reduced wind shear in the North Atlantic – changes in wind speed or direction that could prevent storms. As a result, the frequency of Atlantic hurricanes has increased.

Murakami also suggests that warming in the Atlantic could have even wider consequences.

The study suggests that the frequency of cyclones has decreased in some parts of the Southern Hemisphere, such as Australia. Reducing air pollution in the Atlantic region may have affected the main global circulation of the atmosphere in a way that suppressed the formation of hurricanes in the Southern Hemisphere.

In the western North Pacific, on the other hand, rising pollution levels had a different kind of impact. They had a cooling effect on the Asian continent, which caused a weakening of the region’s monsoon winds. The result: a reduction in the formation of tropical cyclones.

Research does not show that reducing pollution is bad. Reducing pollution is associated with many health benefits and reduces the number of deaths associated with poor air quality. Rather, the study notes that human activities can have many unintended or unexpected side effects – and that communities need to be prepared to confront them.

While a new study focuses on aerosols, it also shows that human-induced climate change is affecting hurricanes in other ways. And those effects are likely to intensify as the planet warms.

Studies have shown that warming makes cyclones stronger, increasing the likelihood that they will escalate into major hurricanes. There is a greater risk that hurricanes will intensify rapidly, dramatically increasing wind speeds in a short period of time. Studies have also shown that hurricanes move more slowly, which increases the risk of flooding. And they are migrating closer to the poles, potentially putting more regions at risk.

Studies on individual storms have also found that some of the strongest hurricanes in recent years have been exacerbated by climate change. Studies show that the rainfall from Hurricanes Harvey, Maria and Florence was more intense under the influence of global warming.

Reprinted from E&E News courtesy of POLITICO, LLC. Copyright 2022. E&E News provides important news for professionals in the field of energy and the environment.

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