Long-term aerosol pollution affects cloud formation and rainfall.
Small particles play a big role in cloud formation, influencing the occurance of droughts and floods.
Aerosols increase the frequency of precipitation in clouds with higher water content, but decrease the frequency of precipitation in clouds with low water content.
Long-term aerosol pollution affects cloud formation and rainfall, exacerbating extreme weather conditions, suggests a new study.
The study, led by Professor Zhanqing Li, from the University of Maryland, indicates that aerosols affect cloud height and thickness, reducing rainfall in dry times and increasing storm activity in wet regions.
The findings, which appear in this week's Nature Geoscience, are based on a 10-year dataset of atmosphere measurements from a climate research facility on the Southern Great Plains of Oklahoma.
The data was supported by model simulations of cloud formation.
Scientists have known for a long time that aerosols such as soot, dust and other small particulate matter, alter cloud density and the radiative balance of the atmosphere.