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Is China's pollution altering California's climate?

drought

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#1
Dan the Weatherman

Posted 20 January 2015 - 08:17 PM

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Is there a possibility that recent industrialization and intense pollution in Asia, particularly China, be altering the overall weather patterns in the North Pacific and the West Coast?

 

First of all I want to say that I have come to this possible scenario from phenomena that I have observed and the timing of everything involved, along with a bit of Internet research on the topic. Obviously, some people will agree with me on either all ideas or on some ideas, while other people will disagree with me with portions or all of what I have presented.

Have you noticed that an ever increasing number of our consumer items have been made in China in recent years? This includes clothing, furniture, electronics, knick-knacks, tools, household items, etc. During the last 15-20 years, production of goods worldwide have increasingly been outsourced by many companies to China and to a lesser extent, other parts of Asia to cut costs and to increase profit. In years past, most of our domestic products were manufactured in the United States, except for some electronics and a small percentage of other items. There are many items in which we don't have a choice between buying something made here in the U.S. or China, so Americans are forced to buy products on a daily basis that are made in China. It isn't just Walmart that sells these products; almost all other stores do so, too.

 

I have read an article about Asian pollution and its possible effects on climate change, which can be found at: http://fire.biol.wwu...irPollution.pdf. I included the link so everyone who is interested can read it for themselves. Some of the ideas that I have mentioned here have come from the article, including some ideas that I have heard or read elsewhere. All references to an article in my analysis here refer to only this article, unless otherwise noted.

 

Pollution in China has been bad for a long time, so air pollution is not really new to the area.  However, there has been a tremendous increase in manufacturing in recent years due to factories in the United States and other Western countries outsourcing their manufacturing jobs there. There has been a dramatic increase in pollution to the point it has become hazardous to breathe the air sometime in the 2000's on to the present day, with smog practically so thick that it is like dense fog. The article shows a picture of Tiananmen Square on a very smoggy day and almost looks like the tule fog that often envelops the San Joaquin and Sacramento Valleys during the fall and winter months. The article also shows many satellite photos of various regions in China as well as surrounding areas which are shown shrouded in smog. Coal is extensively burned in China, both in industry and household use, which is one of the major sources of pollution in the region. As a result in the increased manufacturing economy in Asia, especially China, there has been a tremendous increase in the burning of coal during the last 10-15 years.

 

If you wish to see some images showing just how terrible the smog is in China, Google “China Smog” and make sure that you are in the “images” section. It is so horrible that people wear masks outside on a regular basis! There is one image of Tiananmen Square that was taken January 16, 2014 with a large television screen showing a sunrise because it has been so dark in Beijing due to the terrible smog. Someone who was interviewed in the Daily Mail (UK publication) article in which the picture was posted said that the smog has gotten worse in the last 2-3 years, which corresponds to the same time period of the current California drought. The link to the article and picture is: http://www.dailymail...men-Square.html

 

The article states that drought and flood patterns in China have changed likely as a result of this pollution. Northern China has become increasingly drier in recent years, while southern China has experienced more heavy rain and flooding events. As a result of this regional pattern change, I believe there is a real possibility that regional effect on their weather patterns is translating into a change in the general pattern downstream (in this case the NE Pacific and Arctic regions, and ultimately the West Coast) which is leading to the unusual persistence of the very amplified ridge, which in some circles has become known as the Ridiculously Resilient Ridge (RRR) that tends to extend from the Gulf of Alaska all the way down into California.

 

The pollution coming from China in my view is like a constant volcanic eruption, spreading all sorts of matter such as black carbon, CO2, and other chemical byproducts into the upper atmosphere, possibly acting as a constant forcing mechanism that is aiding in creating repetitive weather patterns especially during the winter months when coal use increases as households there also burn coal for heating. This could explain the reason that the ridging along the West Coast has been unusually persistent and resilient during the last few years. It appears that this amplified pattern began to show up around 2003 with the big summer heatwave in Europe, and increasingly became more prevalent starting about 2009-10 or so. It may be that the pollution levels have reached a tipping point recently (sometime between 2010 and 2012), along with Arctic warming (more details below), which is at least in part causing extremely amplified and certain weather patterns to become stuck in place for long periods of time. This Western ridge pattern over the last 2-3 years has had an uncanny ability to bounce back in a very short period of time, not allowing other patterns such as Western troughing to take hold for any length of time. This almost endless ridging pattern has prevented the Gulf of Alaska storm track from having any influence on West Coast weather as of late, denying the Pacific Northwest cold air outbreaks with low elevation snow, as well as denying the Sierra Nevada good old fashioned snow producing storm systems to build a healthy snowpack for California’s water supply.

 

Another possible occurrence that was mentioned in the article is that the Asian pollution, particularly from China, is depositing black soot on the Arctic sea ice, which is darkening the surface (less albedo), resulting in more rapid melting of the sea ice in recent years. This has become especially noteworthy from the mid-2000's on to the present day. This increase in ice melt seems to correspond to about the same time period of explosive growth in manufacturing in China.

There has been some speculation that the warming of the Arctic has led to the weakening of the north Pacific jet stream, making it more amplified and undulating as opposed to being stronger and more zonal in nature, leading to the extremely amplified weather patterns in recent years. The temperature gradient between the equatorial Pacific and the Arctic has lessened during this time frame with the Arctic warmth, which may be the mechanism that has weakened the jet stream. The warm dry West and cold Midwest is a prime example of this type of amplified pattern that has been more persistent than it used to be. Heat waves over Europe and Russia in recent years likely have been a result of a similar amplified setup.

I believe that when the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation (AMO) is in its warm phase, which it has been since 1995, that it triggers a pattern of a degree of ice melt in the Arctic which is a natural phenomenon. This can be seen on sea ice extent graphs that are widely available online. However, there has been a precipitous drop in sea ice around the year 2000 or just after, that has led to record low sea Arctic ice extent around the year 2007, and I feel that the pattern changes in the Arctic along with the soot from Asian pollution, mainly from China, has possibly exacerbated the situation by the process mentioned above, which has led to the very low sea ice extent from 2007 to the present. This Arctic sea ice melt appears to be a natural phenomenon that started in the 1990’s that has since been worsened by human activity in Asia, especially China, but not in the United States, Europe, or anywhere in the Southern Hemisphere.

 

In conclusion, the main question here is as follows: if China’s pollution is really the culprit of our recent winter weather patterns, are we in California going to remain in a perpetual drought? 


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#2
snow_wizard

Posted 20 January 2015 - 08:24 PM

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Doubtful. I think this is all natural cycle stuff.

Death To Warm Anomalies!

 

Winter 2017-18 stats

 

Total Snowfall = 0.0

Coldest Low = 32

Lows 32 or below = 1

Highs 32 or below = 0

Lows Below 20 = 0

Highs Below 40 = 0

 

 


#3
Dan the Weatherman

Posted 20 January 2015 - 08:36 PM

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Doubtful. I think this is all natural cycle stuff.

That is definitely a possibility as well. 



#4
Black Hole

Posted 20 January 2015 - 11:49 PM

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I think it could have an effect on climate, but I definitely don't think I know how just yet. Nice job doing some research.


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BS Atmospheric Science University of Utah May 2015

PhD Candidate Atmospheric Sciences

 

--Emphasis on: Forecasting, Mountain Weather, Numerical Weather Prediction, Data Assimilation

 

Winter 2016/17 Snow:
Nov 17: 3.2", 23: 1.6", 28: 9.2" (14)

Dec 1: .5", 16: 2.5", 25: 13" (16)

Jan 2: 5", 3: 2.4", 4: 7.7", 12: 1", 19: 1.2", 21: 13", 23: 6", 24: 1", 25: 3.7", 26: 2.5" (43.5) 

Feb 11: .5", 23: 6.5", 27: 4.5" (13.5)

Mar 5: 5.5" (5.5)

Apr 8: 2", 9: 1.8" (3.8)

May 17: 1" (1)
Total: 96.3"

Lowest Temp: 2F


#5
Alan

Posted 21 January 2015 - 08:43 AM

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Great write up Dan & postulation.  I haven't read the linked article yet, I am wondering if atmospheric readings have been done in regards to what you've mentioned - black carbon, CO2, and other chemical byproduct - for both areas above said pollution and outwards as you head east from china over the pacific (or more specifically in the direction in which winds would carry these pollutants).

 

Talk about Irony, regardless if climate has been altered or not, but simply the affect of U.S. outsourcing the manufacturing of such a large amount of goods & the affect, that I could only describe as negative, on so many different aspects of life / nature / economy etc etc.


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#6
Phil

Posted 21 January 2015 - 09:15 AM

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Poleward migration of Hadley Cells from 1976-2006 = SW US drought. China is innocent..heh, well, you get the picture
Personal Weather Station, Live Stream on Wunderground: https://www.wundergr...BETHE62#history

Cold season 2017/18:
Snowfall: 0"
Largest snowfall: 0"
Number of winter events: 0
Coldest High 67*F
Coldest low: 44*F
Highest sustained wind: 17mph
Highest wind gust: 26mph

#7
richard mann

Posted 21 January 2015 - 01:18 PM

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.. Copy "Hadley 1".

 

 11572307115_98da7ab1de_k_0.jpg


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#8
Dan the Weatherman

Posted 21 January 2015 - 09:35 PM

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I forgot to mention one thing in my write-up above, and that is if China's pollution is somehow affecting California and the rest of the West Coast's weather patterns, it is not something that I believe is deliberately being done. Rather, it is an unintended consequence. I don't believe that anyone or any government entity, including HAARP has the power whatsoever to control any aspects of weather, and I also don't believe in chemtrails, either.



#9
Chris

Posted 22 January 2015 - 07:57 AM

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I have read theories that the huge amount of aerosols being put out by Asia is offsetting CO2 warming.  However, there is far from a consensus on this.



#10
richard mann

Posted 22 January 2015 - 03:48 PM

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... Coal is extensively burned in China, both in industry and household use, which is one of the major sources of pollution in the region. As a result in the increased manufacturing economy in Asia, especially China, there has been a tremendous increase in the burning of coal during the last 10-15 years. ...
 
.. The article states that drought and flood patterns in China have changed likely as a result of this pollution. Northern China has become increasingly drier in recent years, while southern China has experienced more heavy rain and flooding events. As a result of this regional pattern change, I believe there is a real possibility that regional effect on their weather patterns is translating into a change in the general pattern downstream (in this case the NE Pacific and Arctic regions, and ultimately the West Coast) which is leading to the unusual persistence of the very amplified ridge, which in some circles has become known as the Ridiculously Resilient Ridge (RRR) that tends to extend from the Gulf of Alaska all the way down into California.

 
hey Dan. Just getting around to this. 
 
.. With the two sections above here, in my view leastwise, working to encapsulate the main ideas that you've outlined in more detail with what you've written, ...
 
I'd say (think, maybe more.) that where looking main macro more regional, to more so, i.e. more China proper to more global (eastward to the W. hem..), that the main particulates of the more extensive burning of Coal, would / might / just may, have some .. more significant effect on main precip.. And so, with this in turn, some effect on main and larger patterning more downstream. .This, if with as with what "Chris" has said above more where looking at CO2, tough to tell to just what extent.
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#11
Front Ranger

Posted 26 January 2015 - 09:05 PM

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I have read theories that the huge amount of aerosols being put out by Asia is offsetting CO2 warming.  However, there is far from a consensus on this.

 

From what I understand, even though Asian SO2 emissions is very high, globally it's actually been decreasing over the past 20 years. So I don't think it's a major factor in global temp trends, and it's certainly nothing like what occurs when a massive volcanic eruption like Pinatubo happens.


Cool anomalies soothe the soul.


#12
richard mann

Posted 26 January 2015 - 10:58 PM

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-
... If perhaps, otherwise, a more .. simple, "macro" look at the idea, might tend to make one think more along the lines of, even lend to the idea that, ...
 
".. China's certainly starting to look like a potentially fairly huge, heat island." .. "With some amount of colder air just perhaps being more apt to be steered more around it."      ("Techno. ..." What. ?!!. )
-


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#13
Dan the Weatherman

Posted 08 February 2015 - 03:32 AM

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Here is an article from TWC mentioning that the pollution from China and other parts of Asia may indeed be affecting our weather patterns across North America in recent years. This goes along pretty closely with my line of thinking in the article I posted above. http://www.weather.c...r-united-states



#14
ClaireAnderson

Posted 22 May 2015 - 03:18 AM

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I don't really buy this theory!


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San Francisco, CA, USA

 


#15
iFred

Posted 22 May 2015 - 05:32 AM

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I don't really buy this theory!

Why not?



#16
Phil

Posted 23 May 2015 - 12:46 AM

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There are other, more physically-realistic reasons for the drought..in fact, there have been recurring megadroughts in SW North America throughout the Holocene.
Personal Weather Station, Live Stream on Wunderground: https://www.wundergr...BETHE62#history

Cold season 2017/18:
Snowfall: 0"
Largest snowfall: 0"
Number of winter events: 0
Coldest High 67*F
Coldest low: 44*F
Highest sustained wind: 17mph
Highest wind gust: 26mph

#17
richard mann

Posted 23 May 2015 - 12:55 AM

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.. Define "physically-realistic". Then perhaps if you would, connect it up better to both what you've said here above, and the article that you're apparently commenting with respect to. (?)

 

And has there been something in particular in what you've seen or read within that article posted pointed to above, that's suggested to you that this (general pollution) factor has been one more dominate than whatever others that you might have in mind where considering what's been suggested by it more mainly. ?

 

".. Probably not." (You'd say. ?)

 

"With and if looking at the drought more specifically, ... they're, fairly common in the West."  You've shifted the paradigm together with main focus of the article, from what it's suggested pointed to. And then stated something fairly obvious, in support of your own tangent. 

 

 "Both CA, and NV, are Western States. And so, ..."


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#18
richard mann

Posted 23 May 2015 - 10:22 AM

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I don't really buy this theory!

 

A bit like a mini and more immediate "Global Warming" kind of thing. Huh. ? .. More actual pollution focused. Perhaps open to even more controversy. 

 

.. I'd say it's "worth" some additional and more finite study. My view would be that more than some type of grander scope if lesser heat-island idea both effect and impactperhaps contributing to the Jet's being steered more around that part of Greater Asia morethat the increased particulate certainly may lend to some type of shift or different sheering of main precipitation patterns. More some places less others, looked at otherwise. 

 

"Theory", hypothesis. Something to watch and look into more I'd say. 


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