Cleaner Skies and More Storms May be Natural Cycle
Industrial air pollution from North America and Europe may have
had a major soothing impact on storm cycles in the North Atlantic through much of the twentieth century, according to a new report published in the
journal Nature Geoscience. The increase in storms starting in the 1990s may
have been influenced by cleaner skies resulting from laws to prevent air
pollution. "Cleaner Skies, Stormier Skies,” a New
York Times story by Justin Gillis
explains that sulfur dioxide in the air from fuel combustion changes the nature of clouds, causing them to
be made up of finer droplets. That means brighter clouds that reflect more sunlight
back into space, letting less light reach the earth's surface. Massive increase in air pollution
in the North Atlantic Basin may have cooled the ocean surface enough to change the large
scale circulation in the atmosphere, suppressing storms. Diminished storm activity in the 1970s and 1980s may have given people a false sense of security and encouraged now imperiled coastal development, the story says.
Scientists emphasize more study is needed.
They also stress that the surprising findings are no reason to halt efforts to stop air pollutions, which damages the environment
and harms human health.