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Question:
Is there a relationship between the weather and pollution?



Replies:
There are some interesting relationships between weather and pollution, one of the best known and understood is smog. Smog happens in cities when a layer of cold air traps warmer air underneath, along with all the pollutants produced in the city. This accumulation can affect the health of humans by exacerbating respiratory disease. Acid rain is another phenomenon that links pollution with weather: when sulfur-dioxide gases produced by hydrocarbon combustion combine in the atmosphere with water, it forms tiny droplets of sulfuric acid, which returns to the earth when it rains.

Finally, some scientists speculate that carbon-dioxide pollution (hydrocarbon combustion again) may contribute to a warming of the global climate, in which case local weather conditions may change in ways that we cannot now predict. We know for certain that when a big "pollution" event such as a volcanic eruption occurs, the extra atmospheric Dallmanust scatters more sunlight into space, leading to a slight cooling of global temperatures and unpredictable changes in local weather patterns. I know of no case where pollution actually causes meteorological events, it is more of an interactive relationship. When bad weather and pollution happen at the same time, it seems worse to us than if either one happened alone.

Don Libby



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