JPL Claim: Asian Pollution makes US Storms Worse

Story submitted by Eric Worrall

A new study from NASA’s JPL claims Asian air pollution causes worse storms in North America, especially during winter.

Satellite image showing smog over Bejing and Tianjin China. Image: NASA
According to abstract, the study used a global climate-aerosol model to compare current conditions with modelled pre-industrial conditions.

Lead author Yuan Wang, from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory at the California Institute of Technology, said: “The effects are quite dramatic. The pollution results in thicker and taller clouds and heavier precipitation.”

The team said that tiny polluting particles were blown towards the north Pacific where they interacted with water droplets in the air.

Dr Yuan Wang said: “Since the Pacific storm track is an important component in the global general circulation, the impacts of Asian pollution on the storm track tend to affect the weather patterns of other parts of the world during the wintertime, especially a downstream region [of the track] like North America.”


Assessing the effects of anthropogenic aerosols on Pacific storm track using a multiscale global climate model


Increasing levels of air pollutants in Asia have recently drawn considerable attention, but the effects of Asian pollution outflows on regional climate and global atmospheric circulation remain to be quantified. Using a multiscale global aerosol–climate model (GCM), we demonstrate long-range transport of the Asian pollution, large resulting variations in the aerosol optical depth, cloud droplet number concentration, and cloud and ice water paths; enhanced shortwave and longwave cloud radiative forcings; and increased precipitation and poleward heat transport. Our work provides, for the first time to the authors’ knowledge, a global multiscale perspective of the climatic effects of pollution outflows from Asia. The results reveal that the multiscale modeling framework is essential in simulating the aerosol invigoration effect of deep convective cloud systems by a GCM.


Atmospheric aerosols affect weather and global general circulation by modifying cloud and precipitation processes, but the magnitude of cloud adjustment by aerosols remains poorly quantified and represents the largest uncertainty in estimated forcing of climate change. Here we assess the effects of anthropogenic aerosols on the Pacific storm track, using a multiscale global aerosol–climate model (GCM). Simulations of two aerosol scenarios corresponding to the present day and preindustrial conditions reveal long-range transport of anthropogenic aerosols across the north Pacific and large resulting changes in the aerosol optical depth, cloud droplet number concentration, and cloud and ice water paths. Shortwave and longwave cloud radiative forcing at the top of atmosphere are changed by −2.5 and +1.3 W m−2, respectively, by emission changes from preindustrial to present day, and an increased cloud top height indicates invigorated midlatitude cyclones. The overall increased precipitation and poleward heat transport reflect intensification of the Pacific storm track by anthropogenic aerosols. Hence, this work provides, for the first time to the authors’ knowledge, a global perspective of the effects of Asian pollution outflows from GCMs. Furthermore, our results suggest that the multiscale modeling framework is essential in producing the aerosol invigoration effect of deep convective clouds on a global scale.

The full paper:

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April 14, 2014 11:01 pm

Naughty asians – stop polluting the air or you’ll go blind…

April 14, 2014 11:03 pm

My tax dollars at work. Bunk….

April 14, 2014 11:16 pm

OMG, They are trying to setup a nucleation scenario like the Cape Verde. That is quite silly.

April 14, 2014 11:23 pm

Another model fantasy masquerading as science. Bad models, using fabricated aerosol data and forcing values, paid for by other people’s hard earned money.

April 14, 2014 11:35 pm

Is there evidence in the form of measurable Pacific storms to support this? It would not appear so. Which raises the question as to why this was not noted in the report.

April 14, 2014 11:44 pm

” modelled pre-industrial conditions”
In Asia, people burn coal and coke in buckets to keep warm as they have for centuries. They also burn whatever else they can get, especially dried animal dung. What “pre-industrial conditions”?

April 14, 2014 11:47 pm

This is our fault for sending all our manufacturing and smoke stack jobs to the orient. It’s always our fault.

April 15, 2014 12:32 am

Yes, we can see direct evidence of this from the fact that while China’s pollution has been horrible the past couple of years, last year saw the fewest number of tornadoes ever recorded and this year is even lower than last year at this time. This is because the Chinese pollution causes severe anti-storms. Anti-storms are a sort of massive weather event that completely cancels out tornadoes and they are absolutely horrible. It is estimated that anti-storms kill somewhere around 2.5 million Americans every year but the number is hard to pinpoint. This is because anti-storms have no clouds, no wind, and really no indication that they are there except for the lack of tornadoes and other severe weather.
Congress is now working on a bill to allocate some $200 billion dollars annually to the study of these anti-storms and what impact Chinese pollution might have on them. Supporters are lining up now to ensure these research grants go out to the people who can do the most good. A recently formed Center for the Study of Anti-Storms has currently hired lobbyists thanks to a grant from Warren Buffett who plans to invest in anti-anti-Storm technologies. His first investment is in super reinforced tornado shelters that President Obama is expected to mandate be installed in every home in the United States. Mr. Obama has also expressed support of building a 1,000 foot high wall around the state of Oklahoma. When asked about the expected impact of the wall, he replied “It depends on how fast that Okie was driving when he hit it”.
When asked about how they were going to pay for this research, Nancy Pelosi became quite animated in her expression of horror that anyone would possibly get in the way of such an important project and that if it saves even one life then it is worth it. “Think of the children”, she repeated several times. Harry Reid couldn’t be reached for comment as he was busy negotiation the relocation of turtles to an area that had until recently been a Nevada ranch.

Cold in Wisconsin
April 15, 2014 12:46 am

Thank you crosspatch. I will be alert to the increase in Chinese pollution caused Anti-Storms. Are there perchance any Super-Anti-Storms? Perhaps we could name them. Oh wait, maybe that wouldn’t work….

April 15, 2014 12:48 am

This just in, Pelosi has offered a breakthrough compromise where the new anti-storm research legislation will be paid for by a “breathing fee” levied on each American citizen. Those who consume the most air will pay the most money. There will be special surcharges on owners of airplanes, automobiles and vacuum cleaners for the air they consume.

April 15, 2014 12:51 am

Yes. There are super-anti-storms. You can see them best when there is a lack of them. For example, there was not a super-anti-storm in 2012 when Sandy struck the coast of NY and NJ. The reason we don’t have superstorms in most every other year is that they are blocked by the formation of super-anti-storms caused by a combination of Chinese and US pollution. As we are now seeing a reduction in US pollution, it has been suggested that this might be the reason for the lack of development of one in 2012.

Kelvin Vaughan
April 15, 2014 12:55 am

Meanwhile in the UK global warming makes record number of UK beaches cleaner.

April 15, 2014 1:10 am

Wait a minute. Didn’t the UK have torrential rains and flooding?

A record 73% of beaches in the UK have “excellent” water quality because of last summer’s dry weather, according to the Marine Conservation Society.
Researchers said the lack of rain caused less pollution to filter down from towns and cities to the coasts.

So let me get this straight — water quality is great today in April because of a lack of rain last summer but “Biblical” rains in February DON’T cause pollution to filter down from towns and cities to the coasts? Are these people insane? (that was rhetorical)

April 15, 2014 2:35 am

Crosspatch, I think the study was made during last summer.

“Scientists took samples of bathing water from Britain’s beaches every week last summer – checking for bacteria such as e-coli.”

Here is another effect of ‘climate change’. 😉

BBC – 18 July 2013
UK butterfly numbers at ‘historic low’, warn charity

But what’s this two months later?

BBC 16 September 2013
Hot summer helps boost butterflies
…..”The hot summer this year meant that some butterfly species, which were in their early life cycle stages when the heat wave began were able to capitalise on it giving rise to high numbers of adults during the count in late July and early August.”…..

April 15, 2014 2:39 am

By the way 2013 was the hottest and driest summer since 2006 according to the Met Office. Less sea pollution and a boost in butterfly numbers. Warm is good, cold and wet not so much.

April 15, 2014 2:52 am

Relieved: “Next!”

April 15, 2014 3:04 am

Can NASA’s JPL take this study to its next logical conclusion?
It would seem apparent that a reduction in North American air pollution would cause a lessening of storms in Europe, especially during winter.
Oh wait, Catastrophic Anthropogenic Global Warming only goes in one direction.

April 15, 2014 5:18 am


April 15, 2014 5:19 am

Crosspatch said: “Those who consume the most air will pay the most money…special surcharges on owners of airplanes, automobiles and vacuum cleaners”
Forgot diesel engines, they are such air hogs. Although one could argue an exemption for vacuum cleaners since they don’t really “consume” air. The air is just a working fluid, and expelled relatively unaltered. (assuming HEPA filtration).

April 15, 2014 5:39 am

After this winter (this in honor of Detroit setting its all-time snowfall record today), I think there are a lot of people in California who would welcome “worse” storms.
Hey, in the late 1970s, aerosols were partly blamed for the impending glaciation. And increased rainfall downwind of industrial aerosols. I suspect it won’t be long before someone uses this study to blame CO2 releases (and its concomitant aerosols) for the global warming pause.

Tom O
April 15, 2014 5:42 am

Another example of writing a program to find what you are looking for and acting surprised when it finds it. I think we need to power down the generators that are powering up these computers that they use and that should cut down on that nasty old CO2 a little!

Pamela Gray
April 15, 2014 7:07 am

Straight away I can debunk this paper. Total aerosol load is largely made of natural sourced dust and sea spray particles which vary in concert with atmospheric oscillations teleconnected to oceanic oscillations. Manmade particulate increase/decrease is very, very small compared to normal oscillations from natural intrinsic sources (think natural droughts, natural trade wind oscillations, etc).
This paper makes the same mistake others have made. Turning natural and necessary components of our ocsillating atmosphere into things we should get rid of. We would all be in dire straights without CO2 AND aerosols.

April 15, 2014 7:21 am

The theory presented in this “study” makes sense to me; that the rapidly increasing pollution there makes its way over here and affects our weather — somehow. But to study it using models only is not science.

April 15, 2014 7:37 am

Does Asian particulate remain entrained long enough to cross the Pacific? The quantities over there are significant, worse than Gary IN in the 70’s, which lends some credibility to this, to me anyway. I will endeavor to answer my own question…

April 15, 2014 7:53 am

Lead author Yuan Wang, from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory at the California Institute of Technology, said: “The effects are quite dramatic. The pollution results in thicker and taller clouds and heavier precipitation.”

Good. Thicker, taller clouds are a negative forcing, increasing the earth’s albedo. More clouds, more cooling per Svensmark.

April 15, 2014 7:53 am

Great. Maybe we’ll get some relief from this drought here in California.

Louis Hooffstetter
April 15, 2014 7:54 am

“…the impacts of Asian pollution… tend to affect the weather patterns of… downstream region(s) like North America.”
Downstream region? Look at a globe. China is litterally on the opposite side of the planet from North America.

April 15, 2014 8:01 am

And the answer is, “Yes!”
From Ewing et al, Cal Berkeley, published in Environmental Science and Technology in 2010:
“We tested whether Pb isotope ratios in airborne particles can be used to directly evaluate the Asian contribution to airborne particles of anthropogenic origin in western North America, using a time series of samples from a pair of sites upwind and downwind of the San Francisco Bay Area. Our results for airborne Pb at these sites indicate a median value of 29% Asian origin, based on mixing relations between distinct regional sample groups.”

David Chappell
April 15, 2014 8:08 am

What also seems to have been left out are the very considerable amounts of sand particles blown up from the North and Central Asian deserts.

Tim F
April 15, 2014 8:10 am

Models can’t replicate current conditions. How are they recreate past conditions.

April 15, 2014 8:43 am

If the Asia pollution really enhances downstream precip, then Californians should be thankful and hope for more of it.
But, I thought that most aerosols, when increased, caused smaller droplets in clouds and less rainfall. Not true?

April 15, 2014 9:04 am

So it’s not the Carbon (i.e CO2)?

Pamela Gray
April 15, 2014 9:05 am

The change in climate or weather from aerosol forcing is predominated by natural oscillations. Given that aerosols are not well mixed at all, we can only approximate that 90% of climate effective aerosols are naturally sourced and likely due to the combined atmospheric oceanic teleconnections kicking all that stuff up out of our Earth-bound biosphere into our atmospheric biosphere. Any changes from anthropogenic (which can be difficult to ascertain) aerosol ups or downs would be buried in the natural variability intinsic to Earth’s natural biospheric sources of aerosol load.
The study holds no water, air, or aerosols.

April 15, 2014 9:30 am

So the circualtion is intensified just as Marcel Leroux explained but these JPL guys decide that aerosols are the culprit to justify an observation that goes against the global warming mantra… I am awaiting the next model that will blame it on particulates from cow farts…

April 15, 2014 9:32 am

Notwithstanding that it is high pressure rising over Mongolia since the 1970s showing southward displacement of anticyclones that creates smog in Asian cities -or European ones -…

Colin Porter
April 15, 2014 10:09 am

It sounds like a case for reverse climate reparations to me for all the damage and increased mortality brought on the peoples of North America by the industrial giants of China and India.

Patrick B
April 15, 2014 10:34 am

Why were they relying on models? Why weren’t they taking samples, tagging and tracking the aerosols etc.? You know, why weren’t they doing science?

James at 48
April 15, 2014 11:10 am

More nuclei, makes sense. Now, how about the brown cloud + high GCR flux?

Weather Dave
April 15, 2014 12:24 pm

Re Tom Rude and the cow fart model; I’m from New Zealand and we already have one. Seriously.
Also seriously anyone who follows tropical waves emanating from Africa and moving westward will find out that the blowing sands from that continent have an enormous effect on their formation. These tropical waves are a forerunner of Tropical cyclones.

April 15, 2014 12:26 pm

These climate McScientists do love their computer games, don’t they?

Gary Pearse
April 15, 2014 1:43 pm

““The effects are quite dramatic. The pollution results in thicker and taller clouds and heavier precipitation.”
Yeah, particulate pollution is bad, but note the negative feedback! I believe we are in the negative feedback stage of clisci development with all the recent papers highlighting this very unsurprising feature. It may be even useful to cover California in smoke again and let the rain fall.

April 15, 2014 3:06 pm

Great idea, blame the asians!
Sounds familiar to me. Find a racial group and blame them for all your woes.
Sounds like Hitler and his Nazis actually. Maybe if we all go to Beijing and smash the windows of every asian owned shop we can find we will improve the weather in the west. Should be plenty of shops to choose from.
Of course if we did that, things may back fire. Seems to me if Beijing’s polution causes heavy cloud and obstruction of sunlight, this is a ready made answer to global warming because clouds cool the earth!
So lets not knock out the asians but join them to keep the planet cool!
Open fires everyone. Burn all the wood and coal you can. Anyone who has never sat around an open fire with friends and family misses the best experience that life has to offer.

April 15, 2014 3:42 pm

rogerthesurf says:
Great idea, blame the asians!
Sounds familiar to me. Find a racial group and blame them for all your woes.
Sounds like Hitler and his Nazis actually.
And so on.
Roger, you are overplaying your hand. This is a science site, not a political/racial blog.
It is a simple fact that China and many other Asian nations emit huge amounts of CO2. Personally, I see no problem with that. CO2 is harmless, and beneficial to the biosphere. There really is no problem with producing more CO2. It’s all good.
But when you bring Nazis and Hitler into your argument, you are not credible. Base your arguments on science instead, rather than on emotional trigger words like ‘Hitler’ and ‘Nazis”. We will all get to the truth faster.
That’s what it’s all about, no? Scientific truth.

April 15, 2014 7:12 pm

FYI as soon as a racial group or a country is mentioned, the whole study becomes political.
Furthermore you miss the bitter irony in my words.
But irony aside, there is a smell of racialism in the assertion that Asian people are to blame for western weather, and it does sound not a little like Hitler blaming the Jews for Germany’s woes.
The whole scientific basis of this post is further laughable as it implies that the pollution produced in Asia is actually cooling the planet.
Sorry can’t see anything to apologise about.

ferd berple
April 15, 2014 9:01 pm

We get 200+ days of rain year in and year out. 50 years ago it was caused by Chinese atmospheric A bomb testing. Now it is caused by Chinese air pollution. Heaven help us, without the Chinese we would have no rain. The Pacific Northwest would change from a rain forest to a desert if it wasn’t for the Chinese.

April 15, 2014 9:08 pm

I slogged through your link. Rough going. But I think I agree with your views.
I suppose we are separated by a common language after all.
Thanx for explaining that. I always suspected it was the Chinese!

April 16, 2014 9:41 pm

Well, NASA tracks dust clouds from China across the Pacific, with the dust ending up in southern California. Can satellites be made to track the byproducts of combustion? I’d like to see some hard measurements first, not models comparing conditions today to supposed pre-industrial conditions.

April 22, 2014 12:51 am

Environmental pollution Is the natural state of being mixed or contaminated with dirt or foreign objects or treasures pollutants makes it look different from the original or from nature. The change for the worse . Also result in very little or no use at all. Adversely affect the health and Environmental pollution, including water pollution, air pollution. Noise pollution And pollution caused by solid waste and sewage .

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