Although the excessive heat of the summer months allows for beach days, BBQs, and playing outside, it is crucial to remain aware of the extraordinarily hot temperatures for health concerns. The relentless sunshine can create unsafe air quality conditions in many regions across the United States. Not only is it essential to remain aware of summer illnesses like heat stroke, but an extra precaution must be taken during the excruciating summer weather to avoid respiratory and cardiovascular problems related to unsafe air quality. Specifically, tropospheric ozone forms as a result of sunlight reacting with nitrous oxides and volatile organic compounds. Therefore, the longer the sun shines throughout the day, the poorer the air can become. Sensitive groups are at severe risk during the summer, especially in densely populated/urban areas due to heightened emissions. Poor air quality is responsible for lung injury and possesses life-threatening outcomes. It is imperative to bear in mind that one should always attempt to lessen car emissions by consolidating trips, reduce the use of substances with chemical solvents, and to check air quality updates. The National Weather Service, partnered with the Environmental Protection Agency, produces daily air quality forecasts to protect the safety of people and the environment, so be sure to keep updated on your region’s ozone and smoke outlooks! A helpful resource for air quality is the EPA’s AirNow, which utilizes the AQI Index and is an easy-to-use tool to remain informed when it is (and when it is not) safe to spend time outdoors!
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©2017 Meteorologist Alexa Trischler
Study Shows Decrease in U.S Sulfur Dioxide Levels Will Increase Rainfall in Africa’s Sahel Region (credit Columbia University Earth Institute)
According to models published in the Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres, a decrease in sulfur dioxide levels in the United States can markedly increase the rainfall of Africa’s Sahel region by the year 2100.
Since the 1970’s, the United States has been on a mission to particularly cut emissions of sulfur dioxide. Sulfur dioxide is a harmful gas that is yielded from the burning of coal. This gas leads to acid rain, poisoning crops around the world, and even induces respiratory problems in animals. In addition, sulfur dioxide “simultaneously cools and dries earth's climate by reflecting sunlight back to space and suppressing heat-driven evaporation near the ground.” By eliminating sulfur dioxide emissions out completely, models suggest that by the year 2100, there will be a 10% increase (from 2000 levels) in rainfall in Africa’s Sahel region (the transition region between the Sahara desert to the north and the Savanna to the south).
The increase in rainfall will also cause the crop season to last longer, allowing harvesting to hit an all-time high. This will also generate economic growth.
To learn more about air quality around the world and the research behind it, be sure to click here!
©2017 Meteorologist David Tedesco
DISCUSSION: As another neat scientific expedition being funded by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) gets underway, here is a neat graphic and discussion below concerning this particular air pollution-oriented project. The project's name being the "Atmospheric Tomography mission" has it's goals set on studying and developing an improved understanding for how relatively short-lived greenhouse gases (e.g., ozone, methane, etc.) ultimately contribute to the effects of climate change around the world. Attached below you can clearly see the NOAA DC-8 aircraft being prepared for its departure! A very neat study without question! To learn about other neat studies being done in regards to air pollution and/or air quality research around the world, be sure to click here!
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