Extreme Weather

After pollution, the deluge

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Science  14 Aug 2015:
Vol. 349, Issue 6249, pp. 702-703
DOI: 10.1126/science.349.6249.702-e
PHOTO: © DAVID NOTON PHOTOGRAPHY/ALAMY

Air pollution is mostly thought of as a health hazard but it also can have a major influence on weather. Fan et al. describe a case in the mountainous area northwest of the Sichuan Basin, China, in which heavy air pollution trapped in the basin amplified the rainfall intensity during a storm in the summer of 2013. The authors conclude that aerosols suppressed atmospheric convection by absorbing solar energy and increasing atmospheric stability during daytime, thus allowing increasing humidity in the air, which then was transported to the mountainous areas and orographically lifted, resulting in extremely heavy precipitation at night.

Geophys. Res. Lett. 10.1002/2015GL064479 (2015).

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