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Rising air pollution worsens drought, flooding, UMD-led study shows
Date:11/13/2011

COLLEGE PARK, Md. Increases in air pollution and other particulate matter in the atmosphere can strongly affect cloud development in ways that reduce precipitation in dry regions or seasons, while increasing rain, snowfall and the intensity of severe storms in wet regions or seasons, says a new study by a University of Maryland-led team of researchers.

The research provides the first clear evidence of how aerosols -- soot, dust and other small particles in the atmosphere -- can affect weather and climate; and the findings have important economic and water resource implications for regions across the United States and around the world, say the researchers and other scientists.

"Using a 10-year dataset of extensive atmosphere measurements from the U.S. Southern Great Plains research facility in Oklahoma [run by the Department of Energy's Atmospheric Radiation Measurement program] -- we have uncovered, for the first time, the long-term, net impact of aerosols on cloud height and thickness, and the resultant changes in precipitation frequency and intensity," says Zhanqing Li, a professor of atmospheric and oceanic science at Maryland and lead author of the study.

The scientists obtained additional support for these findings with matching results obtained using a cloud-resolving computer model. The study by Li and co-authors Feng Niu and Yanni Ding, also of the University of Maryland; Jiwen Fan of Pacific Northwest National Laboratory; Yangang Liu of Brookhaven National Laboratory, Upton, NY; and Daniel Rosenfeld of The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, is published in the Nov. 13 in Nature Geoscience.

"These new findings of long-term impacts, which we made using regional ground measurements, also are consistent with different findings we obtained from an analysis of NASA's global satellite products and have just published in a separate study. Together, they attest to the needs of tackling both climate and environmental
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Contact: Lee Tune
ltune@umd.edu
301-405-4679
University of Maryland
Source:Eurekalert  

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