Is pollution in China causing erratic weather in the US?

Deep convective clouds are linked to intense storms. Photo courtsey of The Earth System Research Laboratory

After the few days of spring we got here in Upstate New York, it was a bit of a shock for a lot of people when they woke up this morning to snow. Recently, it’s seemed like Mother Nature can’t make her mind up.

But is it possible Mother Nature has nothing to do with this and there’s someone else to blame? I just came across an article from The Guardian that says air pollution in China may be linked to the erratic weather patterns in the United States.

This study, conducted at Texas A&M, used a multiscale global aerosol–climate model to simulate the effects the particles in the smog from China have on the weather patterns that form over the Pacific Ocean. 

They found that compared to pre-industrial days, the smog from China helps form deep convective clouds, which result in intense storms. These clouds are moving east from the Pacific Ocean and causing erratic weather in many parts of the United States.

While I’m not sure if this would have any effect on the snow I saw this morning, I do think it can be problematic for North American.

But this isn’t the first time pollution has effected the climates of neighboring continents. In 2013, research was done at the University of Washington that showed the sulfate pollution from coal factories in the US and Europe may have contributed the widespread drought of West Africa in the 1980’s. Previously, the drought had been blamed on overgrazing and bad agricultural practices.

I don’t know about you, but this is further proof to me pollution isn’t a good thing and should probably be addressed.


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