Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Air Quality to Suffer with Global Warming

In the coming decades India will suffer some of the worst effects of stagnating air due to climate change. (Credit: Hindustan Times/Getty) Click to enlarge.
Climate change is poised to worsen air quality in many parts of the globe, according to a study published Sunday in Nature Climate Change.  By the end of the century, more than half of the world’s population will be exposed to increasingly stagnant atmospheric conditions, with the tropics and subtropics bearing the brunt of the poor air quality. Poor air quality currently causes an estimated 2.6–4.4 million premature deaths around the world per year.

A team led by Daniel Horton, a climate modeller at Stanford University in California, used 15 global climate models to track changes in the number and duration of atmospheric stagnation events, in which stationary air masses develop and allow soot, dust and ozone to build up in the lower atmosphere.  “Much of the air-quality community focuses on pollutants,” says Horton.  “This study takes a step back and looks at the weather or climate component that can lead to the formation of hazardous air quality.”

How worsening air quality due to stagnation would affect different regions has been poorly studied, and there are few estimates of human impact.  The new study shows just how widespread the effects will be, says Jason West, an environmental scientist at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Air Quality to Suffer with Global Warming

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