The relationship between air pollution and storms has long been investigated. Although there have been many studies on this relationship, no definitive conclusion has been reached. A recent study conducted by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the United States found an association between aerosol density and storm frequency. So will air pollution cause the storm? In our article, we examined this issue.
What Is Aerosol?
An Aerosol can be defined as a collection of particles suspended in the air, too small to be seen by the eye. Aerosols can accommodate all kinds of particles. Natural events such as volcanic eruptions, forest fires, sea spray and sandstorms can play a role in the formation of aerosols. However, man-made vehicles and facilities such as fossil fuel-powered vehicles, non-maintained power plants, and biomass power plants can also cause aerosols.
Air pollution and storm relationship
The high density of aerosols in the atmosphere is one of the indicators of air pollution. In studies of the Earth's atmosphere, it has been found that storms are more severe and occur more frequently in areas with high aerosol density. Based on this determination, the routes often used in maritime transport were examined and it was observed that the number of storms occurring on these routes was greater than the rest of the ocean. The vast majority of currently used freighters are powered by liquid fuels. If liquid fuels are used, particles are emitted into the atmosphere. Emitted particles cause increased aerosol density. It is believed that this is the reason why the storm frequency is high on ship routes. A similar situation applies to industrial cities and crowded cities that are oceanfront. It is possible that air pollution caused by factories and vehicles using fossil fuels could increase storm frequency.
Work performed by MIT
Although the relationship between Aerosol density and storms has been observed, the causes of this condition have not been definitively determined. The Massachusetts Institute of Technology study aims to identify these causes. The study, conducted by MIT, uses simulations that can mimic the variable properties of clouds. The execution of the simulations is based on the two situations described below.
Under Normal conditions, the highly humid air in the atmosphere condenses into small water droplets. After that, small droplets of water merge and fall to the earth as raindrops. The high density of aerosols in the atmosphere prevents the confluence of water droplets. Therefore, water droplets cannot turn into raindrops, and the humidity of the Clouds continues to remain at a high level. Humidity is an important factor in the formation of storms. High humidity clouds increase the likelihood of storms forming. On the other hand, humidity and storm intensity are thought to be directly proportional.
Another basis is the relationship between cloud temperature and the humidity of the air surrounding the cloud. High aerosol density in the atmosphere leads to increased moisture in the air surrounding the cloud. If the air surrounding the cloud is dry, the moisture of the cloud decreases and its temperature drops. However, if the humidity of the air surrounding the cloud is high, the humidity of the cloud rises and its temperature increases. Therefore, clouds in areas with high aerosol density are more humid and warm. Hot and humid clouds rise faster in the atmosphere. This is another important factor in the formation of storms.
It is possible that the two conditions mentioned above are related to aerosol density. Therefore, in light of this information, it is possible to say that the storm frequency may be high in areas with high aerosol density.
Is it possible to prevent storms by reducing air pollution?
It is certain that storms negatively affect human life and lead to loss of life and property. It is also possible to say that the storms that have occurred in recent years have been severe. Although the relationship between air pollution and storms has been determined, this is not the only reason for the formation of storms. It is possible that climate changes observed around the world may also negatively affect storm frequency. However, the impact of air pollution on storms is not a phenomenon that has occurred in a short time. Therefore, it does not seem possible to solve this problem quickly. Air pollution, on the other hand, is an important problem that needs to be solved, except for storms.