China’s terrible air pollution may be causing deadly floods, too

Quartz

Soot and air pollution may have caused China’s worst flood in 50 years, according to a recent study. In July 2013, a mountainous region in the Sichuan province was pounded by 94 cm of rain over the course of five days, floods that left 200 dead and 300,000 others displaced.

Researchers led by Jiwen Fan from Pacific Northwest National Laboratory in Richland, Washington simulated the atmosphere over the heavily industrialized Sichuan basin with varying levels of emissions and found that had it not been for the amount of smoke, greenhouse gases, and aerosols spewed from factories in the area, rainfall of the storm would have been 60% less.

“We were amazed at the scale of the effect the pollution had,” Fan told Science. “Effectively it redistributed the precipitation from the wide area of the basin into the mountains.”

Satellite image of the Sichuan basin on January 23, 2014. Satellite image of the Sichuan basin on January 23, 2014.

The…

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