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Global Warming Blamed on Soot

Large amounts of soot particles and other pollutants are causing changes in rainfall and temperatures in China. This may be the reason Asia has had so floods and droughts recently. Scientists think soot may be a major cause of global warming, which shifts the responsibility for controlling climate change to developing nations such as China and India, and away from industrialized nations like the U.S., which are usually blamed for it. Soot particles are removed naturally from the atmosphere by rain in weeks or months, while carbon dioxide lingers for hundreds of years, so in the short term, it might be more effective to control soot than CO2 emissions.

The soot comes from industrial pollution, traffic, outdoor fires and household burning of coal and wood, which produce soot when they?re not burned completely. China and India cook and heat with wood, cow dung and coal, at a low temperature that?s not hot enough for complete combustion, and incomplete combustion produces soot.

Two NASA scientists created computer simulations to monitor the effects of soot, which absorbs sunlight, on the weather over China and India. They discovered that increased amounts of soot can cause both floods and drought. In recent years, northern China has suffered from increased dust storms, while southern China has had more rain that it?s had since the year 950 AD. As soot heats the lower atmosphere over China, some of this warm air blows to the other regions of the world, changing the weather in distant places, as well.

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