Scientists say poor air quality makes bigger, longer-lasting storm clouds.
Basically, pollution makes thunderstorms worse.
Data was collected from the western Pacific, south eastern China and Oklahoma. It all showed that pollution increased the cloud's size, thickness and duration. Location didn't matter.
In clean skies, ice particles were heavier and fell faster. This caused the clouds to fall apart. But in polluted skies, ice particles were smaller and too light to drop. This then lead to larger clouds.
A polluted sky has many more aerosols – natural and manmade.
Polluted clouds also have an effect on temperatures. Afternoon thunderstorms tend to last long into the night rather than falling apart. This in turn traps heat like a blanket.
During the day, the polluted clouds' shadow diminishes sunlight penetration. This in turn keeps the Earth cooler.
for pollution effects on storm clouds could affect the ultimate amount
of warming predicted for the earth in the next few decades.
Accurately representing clouds in climate models is key to improving the accuracy of predicted changes to the climate.