Aerosols have an outsized impact on extreme weather


Credit: Larisa Koshkina/public domain

Scientists at Caltech and JPL have tied a shift in winter weather patterns in Europe and northern Eurasia to a reduction in air pollution.

Over the past 50 years, the occurrence of extremely cold days has decreased throughout Europe and northern Eurasia, which includes Russia. Combining long-term observations with a state-of-the-art climate model revealed what researchers describe as an “unambiguous signature” of the reduction in the release of man-made aerosols over that time. This has caused changes in the wintertime Northern Hemisphere polar jet stream (a swiftly moving channel of air flowing from west to east) and surface-temperature variability during that time.
The work suggests that aerosols, which are solid particles polluting the atmosphere from activities like burning coal, can have a stronger impact on extreme winter…



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