Is Asian Pollution Intensifying Pacific Storms? Separating the Hype from Reality.
By Cliff Mass
The media over the past week have given a lot of play to a paper in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) that claims that Asian pollution is enhancing storms over the Pacific Ocean, with effects extending globally.
We are talking headlines in hundreds of major media sources around the world. As illustrated below, the headlines have been pretty scary. But as I will show below, the PNAS paper really proves no such thing and this situation is another example of unhealthy and counterproductive hype and exaggeration in the media.
The paper, Assessing the Effects of Anthropogenic Aerosols on Pacific Storm Track Using a Multitscale Global Climate Model (found here) is by Yuan Wang of Texas A&M and collaborators, with the last author being Mario Molina, a member of the National Academy of Sciences (keep this in mind, it will be important later).
The paper claims particles ejected into the atmosphere over Asia (aerosols) are causing “intensification of the Pacific storm track” and “invigorated midlatitude cyclones.” In a press release by Texas A&M, co-author Renyi Zhang states:
“There appears to be little doubt that these particles from Asia affect storms sweeping across the Pacific and subsequently the weather patterns in North America and the rest of the world,” Zhang says of the findings.
“The climate model is quite clear on this point. The aerosols formed by human activities from fast-growing Asian economies do impact storm formation and global air circulation downstream. They tend to make storms deeper and stronger and more intense, and these storms also have more precipitation in them. “
And Tech Times states:
Yuan Wang believes the polar vortex that brought frigid temperatures to much of the eastern United States may have been the result of Pacific storms driven by air particles released over China and other nations .
In a press release Wang stated:
“This cold winter in the U.S. probably had something to do with stronger cyclones over the Pacific,”
So Asians keeping themselves warm is causing cold waves over the eastern U.S. according to an author of this paper. As we shall see below, such claims are entirely unwarranted.
A little analysis quickly reveals that there is far less than meets the eye to this paper. And that there is very little proof that Asian pollution is doing anything to Pacific storms.
Let me begin by noting that the Wang et al. study is limited to modeling. There is no observational analysis showing that observed storms are intensifying. No observations showing direct effects of Asian pollution on storms.
Read Cliff’s analysis here: http://cliffmass.blogspot.ca/2014/04/is-asian-pollution-intensifying-pacific.html
Bottom line according to Mass:
Global warming is a serious issue for mankind and rational discussion of its impacts is being impeded by the huge media hype for weak,speculative papers, most of which will be proven to be in error. And advocacy groups concerned with global warming are not helping their cause by incessantly crying wolf. The world will eventually stop listening. Many folks already have.