Asian Brown Cloud/Haze

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In recent years, more and more people have started to take notice on how much the weather and climate has been changing. Climate change is a long-term change in the statistical distribution of weather patterns over periods of time that range from decades to millions of years. This has been caused mostly due to natural variability or to human activity. Many scientists have noticed that pollution has affected much of the environment, one of the main forms of pollution in the environment is air pollution.

Picture Link to more on Pollution

Air pollution is the introduction of chemicals, particulate matter, or biological materials into the atmosphere. These pollutants can cause harm or discomfort to living organisms, and certain pollutants can remain in the environment and accumulate over time.

The Asian Brown Cloud/Haze is an especially important problem in concerns of the creation and the effects of it. First we have to answer the question: What is the Asian Brown Cloud? The Asian Brown Cloud is a layer of air pollution that covers parts of the northern Indian Ocean, India, Pakistan, and parts of South Asia, Southwest Asia, and China.

A picture taken by NASA of the Asian Brown Cloud Picture Link

The causes for this cloud is caused mainly by domestic wood and dung fires plus smoke from the burning of forests and fields for agriculture. In addition vehicle exhausts, power plants, factory chimneys, characteristic of biomass burning and industrial emissions due to incomplete burning are all added to the mix. Burning biomass such as dried twigs, leaves and dung, and agricultural slash-and-burn practices, are common across poor, rural Asian areas.

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. Black soot particles in the Asian Brown Cloud absorbs the sunlight and warms the atmosphere around the area, it is calculated that the cloud boosted the effect of solar heating on the air around it by almost 50 percent. 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.

The environmental effects are tremendous in regards to the Asian Brown cloud. The Himalayan glaciers provide the source of many of Asia’s great rivers, with millions of people depending on them for food and water. Asian Brown Clouds increase atmospheric heating these glaciers are in retreat for the past number of decades. They carry large amounts of soot and black carbon which are deposited on the glaciers, allowing them to absorb more of the sun’s heat and melt quicker. Asian Brown Clouds are also interfering with centuries old monsoon patterns with disastrous consequences for food production.

The health impact of these particles is an increase in cardiovascular effects, pulmonary illnesses and chronic respiratory problems. The report estimates that in India and China alone, Asian Brown Clouds result in over 330,000 excess deaths per year.

At ScienceNetlinks: Science Updates Asian Brown Clouds, it posted a Podcast on the Asian Brown cloud. The cloud is associated with winter monsoon (December to April) during which there is no rain to wash pollution from the air.

The cloud peaks in size during the winter, when the temperature of the air tends to be hotter than the ground. That situation is called an “inversion,” and the upshot is that pollutants get trapped in the atmosphere and can’t move. It’s like putting a lid on a pot. Seasonal variations like this affect pollution in American cities as well; for example, Los Angeles experiences a similar inversion during the summer months, which tends to be the smoggiest time there.

This pollution layer was observed during the Indian Ocean Experiment (INODEX) intensive field observation in 1999. Subsequently the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) has been supporting a project called ABC (still ongoing in 2007).

1999 INODEX Intensive Field Phase Platforms - Picture Link

For More information on the facts and Myths of Asian Brown clouds please check out the PDF file: Asian Brown Cloud Fact and Fantasy

For more on Air pollution in regards to clouds check this PDF file out: Pollution and Clouds

Youtube video on [CNN] Asia\’s Pollution Super-Cloud 2008.11.13


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5 Responses to Asian Brown Cloud/Haze

  1. avatar Nicole says:

    I’m from Korea, and I also had to experience the brown cloud every spring… 🙁 it’s really bad especially in cities. Anyway, you made a small mistake in the first paragraph. Instead of many scientists, you wrote may scietists

  2. avatar Pratheep says:

    Waz up Julliet,
    Just had time to read you blog. I must say I liked. Sorry I can’t give insightful comments like some people but then again as far I can see ur blog is legit. Looking forward to your final draft. See u in class. PcE

  3. avatar Abayomi says:

    Good topic. Good use of pics. Do you have any ideas about the projection of how this effect will change in the future? What the government is doing to mitigate it? Are the people doing anything to mitigate it presently? I wonder which other countries are in danger of becoming like this?

  4. avatar jp says:

    Hi Juliette,

    Feedback for you:

    Choice of topic:
    – Excellent and very relevant.

    Use of resources:
    – Decent overall, though you do rely on wikipedia considerably. Can you find other, more credibly sources?
    – Also there are several places where you make statements of fact (e.g. “… one of the main forms of pollution in the environment is air pollution”, or “The Asian Brown Cloud interferes with the normal distribution of solar energy from the sun…”) without citing your sources (is this all from the one wikipedia article?)

    Style / Coherence:
    – You’re writing style is straightforward and easy to follow.
    – Your paragraph referring to the Asian brown cloud and monsoon might be better placed along with the rest of your description of what the ABC is rather than after you start taking about the environmental and health effects.
    – I think this post could use a stronger conclusion that summarizes what you’ve discussed and it’s implications with respect to the challenge of climate change.

    Understandability / Clarity:
    – Good. Abayomi posed some good questions you might try to answer in order to elaborate and explain the significance of the ABC.
    – I don’t think you need to explain climate change in your first paragraph.

    Insights / Originality:
    – Good. You’ve done a great job describing the problem.

    Good use of blogging features:
    – Watch the descriptions on your images… they seem rather out of place.
    – Seeing the brown cloud in your third image: wow!
    – I find some of the pictures a bit distracting since they don’t directly relate to what you’re discussing (the first, second and last, in particular). Not a huge issue and more a question of personal style than anything.

Comments are closed.