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Asian pollution contributes to California warming

Asian pollution contributes to California warming

Asian pollution contributes to California warming
March 14, 2007

Pollution from Asia may cause warmer spring temperatures on the West Coast of the United States according to a new study led by scientists at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, at the University of California San

The researchers estimate that Asia may generate as much as 75 percent of black carbon, a type of particulate pollution that impacts atmospheric temperatures by absorbing sunlight and reducing surface radiation. Overall, say the researchers, black carbon has a net warming effect on local climate.

“The soot heating of the atmosphere exceeds the surface dimming and, as a result, the long-range, transported soot amplifies the global warming due to increase in carbon dioxide,” said Professor V. Ramanathan at Scripps.

The researchers note that while “the transported black-carbon pollution is an extremely small component of air pollution at land surface levels, it has a significant heating effect on the atmosphere at altitudes above two kilometers (7,000 feet). The particles influence the Pacific Ocean region, which drives much of Earth’s climate,” according to a news release from Scripps.

“That’s the primary concern we have with these aerosols,” said Scripps graduate student Odelle Hadley. “They can really affect global climate.”

“[This] is a startling finding by itself, but its potential importance is magnified by the fact that black carbon is believed to have a disproportional impact on regional climate,” said Guido Franco, technical lead for climate-change research at the California Energy Commission’s Public Interest Energy Research (PIER) program.

Ramanathan is now examining where black carbon has an impact on regional precipitation levels.

Citation: Hadley, O.L., V. Ramanathan, G.R. Carmichael, Y.Tang, C.E. Corrigan, G.C. Roberts, G.S. Mauger (2007), Trans-Pacific transport of black carbon and fine aerosols (D

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