Pollution from China's coal-burning power plants is pumping up winter storms over the northwest Pacific Ocean and changing North America's weather, a new study finds.
Northwest Pacific winter storms are now 10 percent stronger than they were 30 years ago, before Asian countries began their industrial boom, according to research published today (April 14) in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
North America will be hardest hit by the intensifying storms, which move from west to east, said lead study author Yuan Wang, an atmospheric scientist at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif.
"The increasing pollution in Asian countries is not just a local problem, it can affect other parts of the world," Wang told Live Science.
Aerosol emissions have rapidly increased in Asia in recent decades. For example, China is now the world's largest coal consumer, and in Beijing, air pollution levels have soared 400 times higher than World Health Organization limits. In contrast, aerosols from North America and Europe have meanwhile decreased, because of clean air regulations. [China's Top 6 Environmental Concerns]