Dark Clouds over China


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As the years pass by, it is becoming clearer that China is poised to be a world leader in all facets of life. As they continually develop and their industries grow, the pollution they create is becoming a big issue. The change in atmospheric circulation is probably caused by the resulting climate change.

Recent studies have shown that emissions are starting to decrease. The bigger issue now is a phenomenon called the winter haze, which is occurring due to the rapid fluctuations in the higher polar regions. Because of this, the sea ice level is decreasing while overall snowfall is increasing. This shift prevents the cold air from traveling to the eastern parts of China. If the cold air was able to travel to the eastern regions, it may be able clear out some of the air pollution.

Scientists performed tests in the East China Plains in 2013. During testing in Beijing, the scientists picked up high levels of particulate pollution. They found large amounts of tiny particles in the air. These particles can reduce overall visibility, but more importantly, they can travel into a person’s lungs and cause severe respiratory issues.

Further exposure to this can cause irritation in the eyes, nose,and throat. If a person is exposed to these particles over a longer period, it could lead to the development of asthma and even heart disease.

In further unrelated studies also conducted in China, it has been gathered that an amazing three million deaths can be avoided if stricter air quality control is implemented.

Unfortunately, detailed measurements of air quality in China are unavailable as of right now. In order to create a detailed Pollution Potential Index, scientists had to get creative in the way they were going to piece together their estimates. The parameters they used are visibility measurements and detailed satellite data. they also used air temperature anomalies and wind speeds in order to gauge the ventilation conditions in the eastern regions of China. In doing this, scientists were able to make a connection between sea ice and snowfall and the localized air pollution.

Interestingly, as the emissions went down the overall ventilation condition began to worsen. Scientist quickly learned that in order to improve air quality they would have to adapt to a bevy of factors. Careful planning and testing are needed if any improvements are to be made.

Scientists Are Divided

Scientists, unaffiliated with the research performed in China, were divided when it came to the usefulness of the information that had been gathered. Some claimed that it was an interesting way of identifying how something like low sea ice in combination with snow in Siberia could lead to altering the regional air circulation and create ideal conditions for extreme pollution.

Other scientists are not ready to conclude that the climate change was the reason the anomaly had occurred. Even though they agreed that atmospheric circulation matters when it comes to worsening or improving pollution, because of the way it can vary from year to year there is no way to exactly prove its link to climate change.

A lot of the variations that can affect the research occur because of natural reasons. For example, Arctic sea ice is present during late summer, but not during the winter because during that period the Arctic Ocean is covered by a thick layer of ice.

Another factor that can have a great impact on global climate change is China’s geography and its overall sensitivity to atmospheric circulation changes. Overall, the studies have shown that China is on the right course when it comes to combating climate change. In any case, a reduction in air pollutants and greenhouse gases can go a long way in helping resolve any future pollution issues China may face.

By analyzing snowfall, sea ice,and various weather patterns the researchers found a connection between Arctic sea ice and stagnant air conditions and snowfall in the northern parts of Siberia. Afterward, the scientists created atmospheric models in order to study the long-term effect of all those factors on the pollution and circulation patterns.

They also found that because of the changes in the sea ice levels and snowfall, the East Asian Winter Monsoon began to move further east while decreasing wind speeds. This also created changes in air circulation over China, making the air more stagnant.

The Future Looks Dim

As recently as the winter of 2017 these same effects could be felt again. It is becoming obvious that these factors may have a large effect on the structure of the atmosphere itself as the climate continues to change.

Scientists are already at work using new data that has been collected in order to further monitor the air quality in China. Unfortunately, so far, the scientists have found that even though the efforts to reduce emissions have been great, the haze may continue to develop in the future. It has become obvious that emissions are no longer the only culprit, and that the overall change in climate occurring worldwide is adding to these effects.

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