Asian soot could affect warming in Europe and US

Pollution from power plants, cooking and heating in Asia could create summer "hot spots" in the United States and Europe by mid-century, according to a new study by the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

The researchers found that soot, the black carbon particles resulting from fires, and sulphates, emitted by power plants, may "have a greater influence on the Earth’s climate throughout the 21st century than previously thought", NOAA’s Hiram Levy told Reuters.

Both types of pollutant are short-lived in the atmosphere, but have a long-term impact on warming. Soot particles are dark and absorb heat, but sulphates are light and reflect heat, providing a cooling effect. While sulphate pollution is expected to decrease dramatically in the
coming decades, soot pollution is forecast to continue increasing in Asia.

The net effect of the pollution is likely to be hotter, drier summers in the American midwest and Mediterranean Europe. The heating and drying effects are not expected to hit Asia.

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