A recent study by Nature Geoscience has found that there is a close relationship between pollution and storms. A decrease in pollution has led to an increase in deadly storms.

What did the study find?

High levels of air pollution during the 20th century helped to reduce the frequency and severity of North Atlantic hurricanes and other storms. Scientists found a link between aerosols and storms. Aerosols are particles suspended in gas that may occur naturally from volcanoes, clouds, or fog, or be caused by humans from burning fossil fuels.

Scientists discovered that there were less tropical storms when there were high levels of manmade aerosols over the Atlantic. These particles caused changes in the reflection of solar rays and the brightness of clouds. In turn, this affects how much of the sun’s heat is projected over the ocean. The ocean’s warmth gives tropical storms energy. Aerosols present in the atmosphere reduce the amount of warmth the sea can absorb. Thus, creating less destructive storms.

Since the 1980s, we’ve started reducing pollution and improving air quality. These measures have been beneficial for human health, but they are also responsible for the increase in hurricane activity, creating some of the deadliest storms in recent history such as Hurricanes Katrina and Sandy.

So pollution is a good thing?

No, not at all. There are numerous positive effects that outweigh the bad such as the health benefits and the reduction of droughts in Africa. Furthermore, scientists state that Earth-warming greenhouse gases will have more of an impact on climate change than aerosols. Greenhouse gases are longer lasting and will have a greater influence over tropical storms in the long-run.

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