Asian pollution reduces warming

Climate chaos0

The amount of sunlight reaching earth through the murk has fallen by up to a quarter in the worst-affected areas and if the brown cloud disperses, global temperatures could rise by up to 2 degrees Celsius.

But the overall effect of slowing climate change is not the silver lining to a dark cloud that it appears to be.

The choking soup of pollutants may hold temperatures down overall, but the mix of particles means it is also speeding up warming in some of the most vulnerable areas and exacerbating the most devastating impacts of higher temperatures.

The complex impact of the cloud, which tends to cool areas near the surface of the earth and warm the air higher up, is believed to be causing a shortening of the monsoon season in India while increasing flooding there and in southern China.

Soot from the cloud is also deposited on glaciers, which are at the centre of environmentalists’ and politicians’ concerns because they feed Asia’s key rivers and provide drinking water for billions who live along them.

There the particles capture more solar heat than white, reflective snow and ice – speeding up melting of a key resource. At a monitoring station near Mount Everest, soot has been found at levels which scientists say would be expected in urban areas.

There is also a high human cost. The report estimates round 340,000 people are dying prematurely because of damage to their lungs, hearts and risk of cancer.

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