Category: Science & Technology
Powerful tropical cyclones like the super typhoon that lashed Taiwan with 150-mile-per-hour winds last week and then flooded parts of China are expected to become even stronger as the planet warms. That trend hasn't become evident yet, but it will, scientists say.
So far, the warming effects of greenhouse gases on tropical cyclones have been masked, in part by air pollution.
Over the past century, tiny airborne particles called aerosols, which cool the climate by absorbing and reflecting sunlight, largely cancelled out the effects of planet-warming greenhouse gas emissions when it came to tropical storm intensity, according to a new scientific review paper published this week in the journal Science. That might sound like a good thing, but many of those particles came from the burning of fossil fuels and wood, and contributed to acid rain, smog and lung damage. As vehicles and power plants added filters and scrubbers to reduce their impact on human health, levels of human-made aerosols in the atmosphere began to decline. At the same time, greenhouse gas concentrations continued to rise.