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Brown Clouds!!

atmospheric brown cloud, a layer of air pollution containing aerosols such as soot or dust that absorb as well as scatter incoming solar radiation, leading to regional and global climatic effects and posing risks to human health and food security. This layer extends from Earths surface to an altitude of roughly 3 km (1.8 miles). The presence of so-called brown clouds of pollution over urban areas has been of concern for decades. Urban brown clouds are heavily influenced by thermal inversions in the atmosphere and occur over several cities. Atmospheric brown clouds, in contrast, are a more widespread, regional phenomena. The first observations of these phenomena were made in the late 1990s as part of theIndian Ocean Experiment (INDOEX), in which coordinated air pollution measurements were taken from satellites, aircraft, ships, surface stations, and balloons. The INDOEX observations surprised researchers by revealing a large aerosol formation over most of South Asia and the northern Indian Ocean. This Asian brown cloud is an annual phenomenon that occurs primarily from November through May. Subsequent data have shown that atmospheric brown clouds are a global phenomenon and are associated with human-generated air pollution from Africa, North America, South America, and Europe, as well as Asia. Atmospheric brown clouds are particularly prevalent in tropical regions; they occur as a result of elevated pollutant emissions and a lengthy dry season that prevents aerosols from being removed from the atmosphere through precipitation.

Atmospheric brown clouds are caused by emissions associated with the combustion of fossil fuels andbiomass. The brown colour of the clouds results from the absorption and scattering of solar radiation by black carbon, fly ash, soil dust particles, and nitrogen dioxide. Such sources of air pollution have increased in the past several decades because of rapid economic development. For example, in the second half of the 20th century, black carbon emissions increased by a factor of five in China, and soot emissions rose by a factor of three in India. Sulfur dioxide emissions increased 10-fold in China and 6- to 7-fold in India over the same period.

Aerosols in brown clouds are made up primarily of black carbon and organic carbon. These aerosols, especially the black carbon component, absorb solar radiation, and this absorption results in enhanced solar heating of the atmosphere. Other aerosols, such as sulfates and nitrates, scatter solar radiation back to space. The presence of both types of aerosols in the air reduces the amount of solar radiation reaching the surface of the Earth, producing a phenomenon called dimming. This type ofradiative forcing is referred to as the aerosol direct effect. In addition, aerosols can influence the formation of clouds, known as the aerosol indirect effect. Atmospheric brown clouds contain a mixture of both types of aerosols. Because of the effects of atmospheric brown clouds, India and China are dimmer at the surface today by at least 6 percent compared with their state in preindustrial times.

Changes in the amount of solar radiation reaching Earths surface because of atmospheric brown clouds can influence the regional climate. A reduction in the amount of solar radiation reaching the surface leads to lower surface temperatures. Lower temperatures slow the rate of evaporation, which reduces the amount of precipitable water in the atmosphere. The resulting declines in precipitation can influence the regional hydrological cycle. For example, atmospheric brown clouds have played a major role in decreases in summer monsoon rainfall in India since 1930. In addition, aerosol pollution has been linked to the southward shift of the summer monsoon in eastern China and to changes in precipitation patterns in other tropical regions. Changes in precipitation and climate due to atmospheric brown clouds can modify regional agricultural production. These impacts are complex and are likely to be different depending on croptypes. One study estimated that from 1985 to 1998 Indian rice output was reduced by 6.2 millionmetric tons (about 6.8 million tonsthat is, enough rice to feed 72 million people) because of air pollution related to the Asian brown cloud. In addition, pollution from atmospheric brown clouds is a threat to human health. Particulate matter, such as soot and dust, has been linked in epidemiological studies to cardiovascular problems, chronic respiratory problems, and mortality. Brown clouds also contain ozone and other hazardous pollutants. Ozone can irritate lung tissue, exacerbate asthma, and reduce lung function. Ozone has also been linked to reduced crop yields.

Regional weather
A second assessment study was published in 2008. It highlighted regional concerns regarding: Changes of rainfall patterns with the Asian moosoon. The observed weakening Indian monsoon and in China northern drought and southern flooding is influenced by the clouds. Increase in rainfall over the Australian Top End and Kimberley regions. A CSIRO study has found that by displacing the thermal equator southwards via cooling of the air over East Asia, themonsoon which brings most of the rain to these regions has been intensified and displaced [13] southward. Retreat of the Hindu Kush-Himalayan glaciers and snow packs. The cause is attributed to rising air temperatures that are more pronounced in elevated regions, a combined warming effect of greenhouse gases and the Asian Brown Cloud. Also deposition of black carbon decreases the reflection and exacerbates the retreat. Asian glacial melting could lead to water shortages and floods for the hundreds of millions of people who live downstream. Decrease of crop harvests. Elevated concentrations of surface ozone is likely to affect crop yields negatively. The impact is crop specific.

Cyclone intensity in Arabian Sea

A 2011 study found that pollution is making Arabian Sea cyclones more intense as the atmospheric brown clouds has been producing weakening wind patterns which prevent wind shear patterns that historically have prohibited cyclones in the Arabian Sea from becoming major storms. This phenomena was found responsible for the formation of stronger storms in 2007 and 2010 that were the first recorded storms to enter the Gulf of Oman.

Global warming and dimming

The 2008 report also addressed the global concern of warming and concluded that the brown clouds have masked 20 to 80 percent of greenhouse gas forcing in the past century. The report suggested that air pollution regulations can have large amplifying effects on global warming. Another major impact is on the polar ice caps. Black carbon (soot) in the Asian Brown Cloud may be reflecting sunlight and dimming Earth below but it is warming other places by absorbing incoming radiation and warming the atmosphere and whatever it touches. Black carbon is three times more effective than carbon dioxidethe most common greenhouse gasat melting polar ice and snow. Black carbon in snow causes about three times the temperature change as carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. On snow even at concentrations below five parts per billion dark carbon triggers melting, and may be responsible for as much as 94 percent of Arctic warming. As a result arctic sea ice cover is shrinking year-round, with more ice melting in the spring and summer months and less ice forming in the fall and winter. Arctic sea ice melted over the summer of 2010 to cover the third smallest [19] area on record. The extent of Arctic ice is dropping at something like 11 percent per decadevery quickly, in other words. Mark Serreze claims that by September 2030, or so, the Arctic probably won't have any ice at all. It will look like a blue ocean.

Measures to reduce
The Summit concluded that only a cooperative solution would reduce or eliminate the Brown Cloud. First, Phoenix area residents must understand the causes and effects of air pollution. Then, in cooperation with local businesses and elected officials, they must reduce the introduction of pollutants into the air through voluntary and regulated methods. Private citizens and business owners can take action by, for instance, reducing traffic through telecommuting, car pooling, and encouraging and/or subsidizing use of public transit including the upcoming light rail system in Phoenix and surrounding communities. Other measures include repairing and retrofitting vehicles with more efficient emissions controls or alternative fuel systems and purchasing cleaner running vehicles for business and government fleets. Auto manufacturers have responded to the demand for "greener" vehicles by producing hybrids which can run on electricity or gasoline, and cars powered by compressed natural gas (CNG) or biodiesel made from renewable resources such as vegetable oil and soybeans. Research into using hydrogen fuel cells which emit only water vapor is under way, but is not expected to result in a practical, affordable passenger vehicle for several years. Mandatory regulations also play a role in reducing area pollutants. Stricter vehicle and industrial emissions have been enacted over the years to comply with the Summit's recommendations and federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rules. Heavy industry has been tasked with reducing smokestack emissions. Farmers and construction companies must meet ever more stringent dust control standards to keep particulate levels down.

Pheonix Since the early 1990s, residents of the Valley of the Sun have been looking for some relief of their own. The "Brown Cloud", as it has come to be known, shrouds the Phoenix area in pollutants nearly year-round resulting in the American Lung Association giving Maricopa County its lowest grade for air quality in both ozone and particulates in 2005. According to the association's "State of the Air 2005" report, over 2.6 million, or 79%, of the county's residents are at high risk for respiratory complications due to air quality. Among those at risk are residents with asthma, bronchitis, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes.

The satellite image, taken in February 2006, shows a band of polluting hazecovering northern India, and trapped by the Himalayan range, intruding into the skies of southern Nepal, Bhutan, and Bangladesh. This is the haze we gazed upon daily. Studies indicate that what has been identified as the Atmospheric brown cloud, is worse in winter when there is less rain to wash the pollution from the air, and is likely caused by a wide range of sources: coal-fueled power plants in India and China, particles from burning wood and forest fires, vehicle emissions, and factories.

The brownish haze, sometimes more than a mile, or 1.6 kilometers, thick and clearly visible from airplanes, stretches from the Arabian Peninsula to the Yellow Sea. In the spring it sweeps past North and South Korea and Japan. Sometimes the cloud drifts as far west as California. The report identifies 13 cities as brown-cloud hotspots, among them Bangkok, Cairo, New Delhi, Seoul and Tehran. In some Chinese cities, the smog has reduced sunlight by as much as 20 percent since the 1970s, the report says. Rain can cleanse the skies, but some of the black grime that falls to earth ends up on the surface of the Himalayan glaciers that are the source of water for billions of people in China, India and Pakistan. "We used to think of this brown cloud as a regional problem, but now we realize its impact is much greater," said Veerabhadran Ramanathan, who led the UN

scientific panel. "When we see the smog one day and not the next, it just means it's blown somewhere else." Although their overall impact is not entirely understood, Ramanathan, a professor of climate and ocean sciences at the University of California in San Diego, said the clouds might be affecting rainfall in parts of India and Southeast Asia, where monsoon rainfall has been decreasing in recent decades, and central China, where devastating floods have become more frequent.

Sediments pour off the western coast of the Korean Peninsula and into the Yellow Sea. They are particularly concentrated in Korea Bay (above) and Incheon Bay (center, below). Incheon Bay is located by the border between North Korea and South Korea, and is famous for its high tidal range. Korea Bay, also called West Korea Bay, is located in the northern part of the Yellow Sea, between Liaoning Province of China and North Pyngan Province of North Korea. Korea Bay is separated from the Bohai Sea by the Liaodong Peninsula, with Dalian at its southernmost point. The Yalu (Amnok) River, which marks the border between China and North Korea, empties into the Korea Bay between Dandong (China) and Siniju (North Korea).

The Asian Brown Cloud

Posted on February 25, 2010 by robertkyriakides

London used to be famous for its pea-souper fogs; Los Angeles still has a vast haze of pollution that hangs over it for long periods, and Mexico City suffers from an almost permanent haze of pollution. So does Santiago in Chile. These smogs are collections of chemical and physical particles usually from burning processes (energy power stations, heating systems and car and aircraft engines) which through their aerosols create huge clouds of pollution. The three cities I have mentioned cover urban areas (including those outside the city limits) where fifty million people live. That is plenty of people affected by these mixed-particle hazes. However the worlds largest mixed particle haze affects billions of people. It hangs over Southern Asia and the Indian Ocean and is known as the Asian Brown Cloud. The Asian Brown Cloud was

what was feared would spoil the Beijing Olympics in 2008. The Asian Brown Cloud is what may well threaten the planet in the long run if China India and South East Asia continue to burn fossil and biofuel and biomass in their present quantities. The Asian Brown Cloud is quite a phenomena. You can see high definition pictures of it on NASAs web site at . The Asian Brown Cloud is a real and present indisputable environmental danger. It pulls ozone from the outer parts of the atmosphere (where it protects us from ultraviolet light) into the breathable parts of the atmosphere (where life lives) where it burns our lungs and damages crops. Ozone also has a powerful greenhouse global warming effect, but in more subtle ways than appear at first sight. The Asian Brown Cloud started life as bits and pieces of indoor and outdoor pollution particles mainly nitrogen oxides, carbon monoxide, sulphur dioxide and ammonia. Most of these particles are made when there is incomplete burning of fossil fuel and incomplete burning of biofuels and biomass. They are also caused by deforestation in its purest form slash and burn methods permitted both officially and unofficially in many undeveloped countries. In global warming terms there is a paradox caused by the Asian Brown Cloud, although there are perfectly good scientific reasons for this paradox. The Asian Brown Cloud interferes with the normal distribution of solar energy from the sun to the atmosphere and the surface of the earth by absorbing and deflecting light energy. This produces an effect where the atmosphere warms but the surface may slightly cool. The overall effect is that the layer of land and air extending from the surface to the troposphere will be overall generally warmed by the Asian Brown Cloud and similar clouds. So you will get global warming which particularises in the atmosphere with some cooling at the surface. This is probably the worst of all possible worlds. A warmer atmosphere means more intense and unusual patterns of precipitation, with extended precipitation in some regions and less in others, more violent or longer lasting storm events, soot deposits on glaciers in the region (which causes them to melt faster, soot being black and absorbs light as heat rather than reflects it) and less surface light which affects crops.

Of course if you live where the Asian Brown Cloud exists you will be quite likely to suffer from pulmonary and respiratory diseases, particularly if you are very young or already weak. You might not believe in anthropogenic climate change but if you were to look at NASAs photographs of the Asian Brown Cloud, first noticed in 1999 and now growing year by year, you can have no doubt that mankind is affecting the atmosphere by burning things and the size and scale and composition of the Asian Brown Cloud makes it very likely that anthropogenic climate change is real. The changes are as I have written subtle and paradoxical, but they are happening. Indeed it is entirely possible that the seething mass of pollution that is the Asian Brown Cloud is masking the effect of global warming where we experience it, at the surface of the earth