Dust from Asia pollutes US, Canada air: study

August 2, 2012
Skyscrapers in downtown Seoul are shrounded by yellow dust storms blowing in from China's Gobi desert in 2006. Dust and aerosol pollution from Asia travels across the ocean and sullies the air in the United States and Canada, possibly worsening the effects of climate change, a study showed Thursday.

Dust and aerosol pollution from Asia travels across the ocean and sullies the air in the United States and Canada, possibly worsening the effects of climate change, a study showed Thursday.

About half of the in North America come from foreign sources, and most are just from naturally occurring dust rather than from burning coal or other fossil fuels, said the research published in the journal Science.

Since could rise as a result of increasingly , drought and desertification brought on by , efforts by North America alone to curb pollution would not be enough, it said.

Instead, all nations must work together to cut back on in the environment, the study urged.

The imported aerosols could be harming the environment by absorbing radiation from the sun, altering cloud formation along with rain and snow patterns, and speeding snow melt in the western US mountains, said the study.

The research was based on data from a US-French environment satellite called CALIPSO that allowed scientists to separate which particles were natural dust and which were pollutant based.

The team included experts at the University of Maryland, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center and Universities Space Research Association in Maryland.

"To mitigate aerosol impacts on regional climate change, actions by a single nation are inadequate. The world must work cooperatively and act synchronically to meet the challenges of global health on a changing planet," said the study.

It also called for more study on how dust itself may affect climate.

"Dust emissions can respond to climate changes, such as changes of wind, precipitation and vegetation. It is thus essential to acquire better understanding of the interactions between dust and climate," the study said.

Researchers noted that their current focus was on foreign dust and aerosols carried into the United States and Canada, but that aerosols emitted and produced in North America certainly affect other regions in much the same way.

Explore further: Scientists to track impact of Asian dust and pollution on clouds, weather, climate change

More information: "Aerosols from Overseas Rival Domestic Emissions over North America," by H. Yu, Science, 2012.

Related Stories

Aerosols -- their part in our rainfall

February 12, 2009

Aerosols may have a greater impact on patterns of Australian rainfall and future climate change than previously thought, according to leading atmospheric scientist, CSIRO's Dr. Leon Rotstayn.

Probing a link from Sahara dust to climate change

February 10, 2012

Qilong Min, Ph.D., Senior Research Associate and Professor with the Atmospheric Sciences Research Center (ASRC) at the University at Albany is developing innovative ways to measure how dust in the Sahara Desert can change ...

Desert dust intensifies summer rainfall in U.S. southwest

May 21, 2012

(Phys.org) -- Dust is more than something to be brushed off the furniture. Scientists at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory found that dust kicked up from the desert floor acts like a heat pump in the atmosphere, fueling ...

Recommended for you

Global index proposed to avoid delays on climate policies

August 4, 2015

Professor David Frame, Director of Victoria's Climate Change Research Institute (CCRI), has co-authored a paper published today in the high profile international scientific journal Nature Climate Change. The paper argues ...

Researchers investigate increased ocean acidification

August 3, 2015

The primary cause of global ocean acidification is the oceanic absorption of CO2 from the atmosphere. Although this absorption helps to mitigate some of the effects of anthropogenic climate change, it has resulted in a reduction ...

2 comments

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

NotParker
2.6 / 5 (5) Aug 02, 2012
"most are just from naturally occurring dust rather than from burning coal or other fossil fuels"

Vendicar_Decarian
3.7 / 5 (3) Aug 02, 2012
"To mitigate aerosol impacts on regional climate change, actions by a single nation are inadequate. The world must work cooperatively and act synchronically to meet the challenges of global health on a changing planet," said the study.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.