NOAA: China to Warm U.S. Heartland

Posted by John Goetz

CNN had the following AP article on their website today. NOAA says that shorter-term pollutants from Asia may raise U.S. heartland temperatures by three degrees in about 50 years.

WASHINGTON (AP) — Smog, soot and other particles like the kind often seen hanging over Beijing add to global warming and may raise summer temperatures in the American heartland by three degrees in about 50 years, says a new federal science report released Thursday.

These overlooked, shorter-term pollutants — mostly from burning wood and kerosene and from driving trucks and cars — cause more localized warming than once thought, the authors of the report say.

They contend there should be a greater effort to attack this type of pollution for faster results.

For decades, scientists have concentrated on carbon dioxide, the most damaging greenhouse gas because it lingers in the atmosphere for decades. Past studies have barely paid attention to global warming pollution that stays in the air merely for days.

The new report, written by scientists with NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, makes a case for tackling the short-term pollutants, while acknowledging that carbon dioxide is still the chief cause of warming.

That concept is also the official policy of the Bush Administration, said assistant secretary of commerce Bill Brennan.

In the United States, this approach would mean cutting car and truck emissions perhaps before restricting coal-burning power plants. In the developing world, especially Asia, it would mean shifting to cleaner energy sources, more like those used in the Western world. Much of this type of pollution in Asia comes from burning kerosene and biofuels, such as wood and animal dung.

In addition to soot, smog and sulfates, other short-lived pollutants are organic carbon, dust and nitrates. While carbon dioxide is invisible, these are pollutants people can see.

Projected increases in some of these pollutants and decreases in others in Asia will eventually add up to about 20 percent of the already-predicted man-made summer warming in America by 2060, the report said.

“What they do about their pollution can affect our climate,” said study co-author Hiram “Chip” Levy, a senior scientist at NOAA’s fluid dynamics lab in Princeton, New Jersey.

This pollution will likely create three “hot spots” in the world: the central United States, Europe around the Mediterranean Sea, and Kazakhstan, which borders Russia and China. In the United States it’s “a big blob in the middle of the country” stretching from the Rocky Mountains to the Appalachians, Levy said.

The same analysis also shows about an inch less of yearly rain in middle America because of Asian emissions by about 2060.

As far as American-produced pollution, smog is the main problem. Reducing diesel emissions and increasing mass transit would prove a more effective and immediate strategy over limiting power plants, said study co-author Drew Shindell, a climate scientist at NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York.

The report make sense, but should also include a strategy for man-made methane, a greenhouse gas which lasts 10 years in the atmosphere, said Michael MacCracken, chief scientist at the Climate Institute in Washington.

Methane mostly comes from landfills, natural gas use, livestock, coal mining and sewage treatment, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

The article is not clear if the temperature increase will apply equally across the calendar year, or be tilted toward one season over the others. If the Chinese manage to raise winter temperatures, then perhaps thanks are due. Otherwise, our next president needs to consider the emerging threat in his foreign policy agenda. Fortunately, NOAA stopped short or recommending we invade China to put a stop to the threat.

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September 5, 2008 10:37 am

I thought particulates were the solution to glabal warming?

Sandip Patel
September 5, 2008 10:53 am

Ridiculous, I also found another which says Masai men are moving into cities due to climate change:
“As drought and hunger bite harder in their rural homes due to climate change and increased competition for resources, hundreds of Maasai men are heading to towns and cities.”

September 5, 2008 10:55 am

Anthroposis: A chronic disease state of the earth
– symptoms: fever, chills, accumulation of toxins
– etiology: caused by the bacterium H. sapiens
– prognosis: extremely poor without treatment
– treatment: to date, only palliative treatments have been attempted; remission may be possible if the activities of H. sapiens can be slowed or halted
– Efforts at eradication of H. sapiens have so far proved infeasible, but research efforts appear promising

September 5, 2008 11:08 am

CNN should check out Sammy Wilson (Northern Ireland’s Environment Minister) comments instead. Check below on BBC, for one of ours!

September 5, 2008 11:17 am

JN (10:37:27) :
I thought particulates were the solution to glabal warming?
And the cause of the cooling in the 1950-1070s …

September 5, 2008 11:21 am

How can they have it both ways? First they say that the clearing atmosphere due to reduced pollution contributes to warming and now they say that increased pollution contributes to warming. I believe the simple act of reading a newspaper these days contributes to warming but on a very, very local basis.

September 5, 2008 11:23 am

Uh… and what China has been doing the past two decades has had no similar effects? If what China does in the next 50 years might cause a 3 degree rise, how much of the recent miniscule warming or cooling is due to what China has been doing?

September 5, 2008 11:37 am

So maybe it wasn’t such a good idea for the American government to subsidize corporate off shoring to China for the sake of corporate profits and the demise of the American middle class.

September 5, 2008 11:39 am

China’s trying to outwit the U.S. at its own paranoia/money hungry tactics?
Shame on them!
We’re supposed to be the best at heeding every mental patient’s doomsday story!
Jim Hansen and Al Gore…you guys are my heros.
I’m a mental patient in the waiting room still!

Nathan Stone
September 5, 2008 11:40 am

It’s a shame we’re worrying about harmless co2 when we could have made a big dent in real pollution with all the money we’ve squandered studying co2. I worked in Italy for a couple months in 2001. We stayed in a mountain top hotel and drove into a valley each day to the plant we were working at. The smog from all the smouldering cook fires was extremely thick and looked like a fog over the valley all day. I know it wasn’t from transportation because aside from the occasional mafioso in his Ferrari, everyone is walking or pedalling (or riding around in tin cans with lawnmower engines). That town needed a good, clean, coal fired plant which offered cheap electricity. The air would have been so much nicer, but the pizza probably wouldn’t be as good.

Bill Illis
September 5, 2008 11:47 am

The only thing that doesn’t contribute to warming these days is the SUN itself?

M White
September 5, 2008 11:52 am

3 degrees here 4 degrees there. You’re all going to boil in your own skins

September 5, 2008 11:54 am

Just stop buying stuff at WalMart and you can reduce the Chinese soot-print.

Bill Marsh
September 5, 2008 12:11 pm

Those tricksey Chinese. [snip-racist]. Very clever of them to discover a silent way to destroy us.
Reply: A old coworker of mine grew up in Chinatown in SF and actually worked at a fortune cookie factory as a teenager. We often joked about the racist terms you used in that post and how most people don’t realize how racist they are. Even what I left unedited is borderline.

September 5, 2008 12:27 pm

Story is that the Chinese are buying up the biggest coal-fired power plant in England – the Drax power station (actually, it’s in Yorkshire, not England). They are also building a huge power station (coal-fired) in Afghanistan.
This is obviously part of a deadly plot to wipe the US off the face of the map – I would give up now … they have you surrounded!

September 5, 2008 12:36 pm

I have a video from the Nature channel that insists particulate pollution causes clouds and clouds cause cooling. SO2 from volcanos cause clouds and reduced magnetic activity of the sun allows cosmic rays to cause clouds… what with the volcanos in Alaska and South America, a magneticly inactive sun and pollution from China, The average daytime high temp here in Kansas for the last three weeks is down about 10 degrees F.

nigel jones
September 5, 2008 12:46 pm

crosspatch (11:21:52) :
How can they have it both ways?
Easy, “Climate Chaos”.

September 5, 2008 1:01 pm

Could we a common correction regarding what causes warming so we can debunk statements like: “acknowledging that carbon dioxide is still the chief cause of warming.”
Even if people are just consistently forced to flag it as ‘man-made’. Over time getting that type of constant correction to the record will help people understand why the current global warming claims are a farce. If water vapor is the driving factor for 90% and they begin to understand that Carbon Dioxide doesn’t even make up a small percentage of our atmosphere (parts per million slikes past most people) then they’ll realize what a grant funding farce this is.

September 5, 2008 1:19 pm
Dill WeedRe
September 5, 2008 1:54 pm

I’ve been emitting methane all morning. I’ve walked most of the rubber of my shoes.

September 5, 2008 2:15 pm

Somehow, it’s really getting funnier and funnier by the day.
My problem is, my sense of humor can’t adopt that fast.
And it’s becoming an art to stay sane in a world which – quite successfully –
works hard to become insane.
I didn’t find – by short – the original phrase from the ‘old stoicist’ Marcus Aurelius,
but as far as I remember, the real goal of life was not to become part of the mayority,
instead stay away of the crowd of the insanes.

Jim Arndt
September 5, 2008 2:56 pm

Here is a paper that states
“Aerosols serve as cloud condensation nuclei (CCN) and thus have a substantial effect on cloud properties and the initiation of precipitation. Large concentrations of human-made aerosols have been reported to both decrease and increase rainfall as a result of their radiative and CCN activities. At one extreme, pristine tropical clouds with low CCN concentrations rain out too quickly to mature into long-lived clouds. On the other hand, heavily polluted clouds evaporate much of their water before precipitation can occur, if they can form at all given the reduced surface heating resulting from the aerosol haze layer. We propose a conceptual model that explains this apparent dichotomy”
And also
“Anthropogenic aerosols alter Earth’s energy budget by scattering and absorbing the solar radiation that energizes the formation of clouds…Because all cloud droplets must form on preexisting aerosol particles that act as cloud condensation nuclei (CCN), increased aerosols also change the composition of clouds (i.e., the size distribution of cloud droplets). This, in turn, determines to a large extent the precipitation-forming processes.”
Read Dr. Pielke’s review and you can also read the whole paper. Just the opposite what the EPA states.

Brian D
September 5, 2008 2:56 pm

OT here but Kasatochi particulates have created beautiful sunsets across the NH. Anyone notice?
From Volcanism Blog
The eruption of Kasatochi volcano in the Aleutian Islands on 7 August injected a very large amount of ash and gas into the atmosphere, including reportedly the largest stratospheric sulphur dioxide cloud since the eruption of Cerro Hudson in 1991. Kasatochi’s aerosols are now producing dramatic and beautiful sunsets across the northern hemisphere. has a collection of images from locations in the United States and Europe; LiveScience has a good article with some pictures; and there are many Kasatochi sky images at Flickr.
Red skies and volcanoes – EarthSkyBlogs, 31 August 2008
Volcano sunsets –, 1 September 2008
Twilights of Europe – The Times, 2 September 2008
Volcano’s eruption colors world’s sunsets – LiveScience, 3 September 2008
Wonder if a cooler Fall/Winter is in store?

Steve in SC
September 5, 2008 2:58 pm

After exhaustive and rigorous study on the subject, I have concluded that man’s activities do add to the warming of the atmosphere.
Consider that:
1) Life is a combustion process – every breath exhales unmeasured quantities of waste heat.
2) Almost every activity of man involves some sort of combustion process in which waste heat is exhaled – be it vehicular transportation or manufacturing of any sort.
I have also devised a cure for this excessive heating of the atmosphere.
We need a goodly number of people to voluntarily stop breathing and then all other activities. Perhaps some of our greenie friends would like to volunteer to help save the planet.
The above was said in jest but thinking about it that seems to be the goal of the radical environmentalists.

September 5, 2008 3:16 pm

Marcus Aurelius: The object in life is not to be on the side of the majority, but to escape finding oneself in the ranks of the insane.

September 5, 2008 3:17 pm

…to follow the logic, the next market crash will be caused by Climate Change.
The following top – after a big, big while – will be caused by Climate Change, too.
I’ve, somehow lost my database of collected phrases – really, no joke – Climate Change must be the reason!
I’ve missed a visit to my doc early today, cancelled the date, did come home from work tonight by far after midnight, was bone tired. Hummm – Climate Change – obviously was the reason.
I don’t look on TV anymore, since about three years – can’t swallow that s**t anymore – this is climate related, I am pretty shure.
I am nearly 55 years now, my – former – black hairs are getting greyish, partly white already. Due to Climate Change, of course.
Our ten yrs old Mitsubishi Space Wagon is getting the first specks of rust. Hummm, Climate Change?
My oldest son has black hairs, the second one has brown hairs, with here and there
some blond strains, the third one has ‘copper’ hairs, which did change from birth until now from copper-blond to dark-copper, going to brown, sooner or later.
Very obviously, all related to Climate Change, no question!
I’m getting tired, whilst writing this sermon. This MUST BE related to CLIMATE CHANGE. Anybody, who offers other expainations, can only be one out of the nasty deniers.
OK, folks, have fun.

September 5, 2008 3:49 pm

Ahhh, but, there is one easy solution to all of that problem.
Spray neurotoxic agent over the populated areas of China, United States, India, Africa and Europe. Reduce the population to less than 500 million people and the pristine Nature will come back again (after the 5.5B corpses have finished rotting)

September 5, 2008 4:16 pm

It seems that the fear campaign is not being effective enough so the have called in the CIA to help them up the pressure. Except now its someone else’s fault, where’d the guilt trip go?!

Leon Brozyna
September 5, 2008 4:51 pm

Politicians want to save us from global warming/climate change.
Everything mankind does contributes to AGW.
Therefore, give the politicians {Repubs/Demos/ UN} all your money as restitution for detroying the planet so the politicians {and the environmental lobbyists & their Hollywood elitist buddies} can save the planet. No money left for food or houses? Live under a bridge and go dumpster diving. And if such harsh conditions become untenable to your continued life, then consider that the ultimate restitution for your sin of living. This will also support the radical environmentalists’ ultimate goal of reducing the population by 4 to 6 billion. Save the planet for the ‘right’ kind of people and let us uppity serfs just die off.

September 5, 2008 5:10 pm

JFA in Montreal,
yout don’t talk serously, you don’t!
Because, if you really do it, what are you doing here?
Provide hate?

September 5, 2008 5:15 pm

So if the US mainland is getting pollution from China, is not Mona Lowa in Hawaii getting is CO2 measurement from China’s exhaust pipe?

old conconstrution worker
September 5, 2008 5:38 pm

‘This pollution will likely create three “hot spots” in the world: the central United States, Europe around the Mediterranean Sea, and Kazakhstan, which borders Russia and China. In the United States it’s “a big blob in the middle of the country” stretching from the Rocky Mountains to the Appalachians, Levy said.’
Oh No Not more “Hot Spots”. I’m still looking for upper troposphere’s “Hot Spot”.
‘This pollution will likely create three “hot spots” in the world: the central United States,’ Maybe the ” boys” have a new source. Page 80 in Old Farmer’s 2009 Almanac.

Tom in Florida
September 5, 2008 6:41 pm

Perhaps all the particle China has been spewing the last couple of years is the source of the lower temps we are now seeing.

September 5, 2008 7:10 pm

I’m not a scientist and I’m hoping one of the many knowledgeable people on this site can answer a couple of questions that I have in relation to this article. First, regarding this claim “For decades, scientists have concentrated on carbon dioxide, the most damaging greenhouse gas because it lingers in the atmosphere for decades.”
I’ve seen this claim made elsewhere and it always puzzles me because the Mauna Loa CO2 Chart clearly shows seasonal drops in CO2 levels. There seems to be widespread agreement that the seasonal drops are from natural sources (northern hemisphere forests primarily). It’s also evident that this natural carbon cycle *nearly* wipes out the entire “surplus” of CO2 that was previously in the atmosphere. Doesn’t this demonstrate that CO2 is not long-lived but is actually rather short lived? Maybe I’ve missed a crucial factor; I’m hoping someone can explain this to me.
My other question relates to the yearly average increase in CO2 as reported by the same Mauna Loa site. It’s fairly obvious (I think) that the yearly rate of CO2 increase (in ppm) has been fairly constant at about 2 or 3 molecules per year. Why would the rate of increase remain relatively constant year after year when the human contribution of CO2 to the atmosphere has not held constant but has been rapidly increasing? Please help me understand this because I haven’t had much luck googling for an answer.
Thank you.

September 5, 2008 7:48 pm

I am not a scientist but only an old engineer and I don’t think they know neither the earth’s CO2 level nor its surface temperature; however, the satellite data is different.

Tim Lindt
September 5, 2008 8:57 pm

Nathan Stone (11:40:11) :
The smog from all the smouldering cook fires was extremely thick and looked like a fog over the valley all day. I know it wasn’t from transportation because aside from the occasional mafioso in his Ferrari, everyone is walking or pedalling (or riding around in tin cans with lawnmower engines). That town needed a good, clean, coal fired plant which offered cheap electricity. The air would have been so much nicer, but the pizza probably wouldn’t be as good
this is so right… right on man!!!!

September 5, 2008 10:00 pm

[…] from the full story on: Watts Up With That? ____________________________________________ Please Don’t Rain On My Parade… Uh… […]

September 6, 2008 5:35 am

Excuse me…Richard North Sept 5 2008 12:27:07
Since when is Yorkshire not a part of England??? [and I don’t mean linguistically, sorry bad joke, Alan Partridge aka Steve Coogan’s fault…LOL]
But seriously electricity power black-outs can also make people pay higher bills…

September 6, 2008 6:13 am

jdaniels, you’re jumping to conclusions from the Keeling Curve. CO2 has a residency time in the atmosphere of 8-10 years. In lay terms, you should think about it this way – If one molecule of CO2 is pumped anywhere into the atmosphere, it will take about 8-10 years on average for it to be removed. The bi-annual fluctuation of the Keeling Curve is not related to this; the fluctuation illustrates the “breathing” of the biosphere – the alternation of which hemisphere’s plant life is dominating interactions with the atmosphere.
The Keeling Curve says nothing about individual molecules, it only deals with the concentration of those molecules (this is your “crucial factor). Gases are dramatically dispersed due to the natural circulation within the atmosphere.
As for your other query, the increase hasn’t been relatively constant; there is a slight exponential shape to it if you look carefully. But that’s irrelevant, because we’re not dealing with linear systems. Yes, we often boil down the relationship such that CO2 goes then Temp goes up, but it’s a ton more complicated than that. However, the Keeling Curve will take on a much clearer shape on various time scales.

September 6, 2008 7:12 am

Brian D, yes, I’ve noticed unusually “red” sunsets here just recently, and I haven’t read or noticed anything about it in the MSM.
Funny how the obvious gets missed.

Richard in Wisconsin
September 6, 2008 8:01 am

In a world battered by global warming and global cooling reports, my tractor lurches violently out of control as it pushes through the particulates from China. Meanwhile, we usually plant about 100 to 105 day relative maturity corn here in Wisconsin, near LaCrosse. Global warming had promised a climate like northern Illinois where we could grow perhaps 110 to 115 day corn and gain maybe ten or fifteen bushels per acre yield. Then the cycle of a less active sun threatened us with a northern Wisconsin climate where it would no longer be profitable to grow corn. Now the particles will send us on a detour back to northern Illinois?
Due to the somewhat cool summer, the corn and soybeans need a warm September to mature and an early frost would hurt. We had no 90 degree days here this summer, although LaCrosse recorded two 90s in August and a 91 and 93 on September 1 and 2. I think that weather station is located just north of the airport and strong southerly winds will improve the temperature a little.
I wonder if the global warming publicity changed the mix of hybrids sold by the seed companies in recent years to later maturing varieties?

old conconstrution worker
September 6, 2008 9:29 am

‘Yes, we often boil down the relationship such that CO2 goes then Temp goes up, but it’s a ton more complicated than that.’ counter words
Or As Temp go up CO2 goes up or as temp goes down CO2 does not incease as expected (GHG models) or as temp goes down, CO2 goes down. Cherry pick your data.
In couple more weeks, we will know how well CO2 is mixed in the atmosphere.
The amplification number of 2.5 is nothing more than a figment of someone’s imagination.

September 8, 2008 7:07 am

The whole issue of CO2 is completely bogus.
Google “McClenney The Sky is Falling” for an entertaining, informative look at what is really going on with climate change. Should answer many questions I’ve seen here.

September 10, 2008 12:47 pm

[…] China’s pollution will warm U. S temperature by 3 degrees in the next 50 years, so says this article. […]

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