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Drop in pollution may bring hotter weather and heavier monsoons

(The Guardian, 13 May 2020) Scientists say fewer particles and polluting gases means more sunlight can reach Earth’s surface.

The dramatic improvements in air quality associated with the coronavirus lockdown could increase sunlight and affect weather patterns, scientists say.

With factories closed and roads relatively empty, air pollution in cities across Asia, Europe and the US has dropped by as much as 60% in recent weeks. The lack of haze has made skies bluer and some people in northern India have been able to see the Himalayas for the first time in 30 years.

It also means that with fewer particles and polluting gases to hinder its path, more sunlight is able to reach the Earth’s surface.

Earlier this year, scientists confirmed that cleaner skies in recent decades have caused a brightening of the Earth’s surface. Satellite measurements show that Europe experienced a surface dimming effect until the late 1980s, followed by a brightening effect as air pollution regulations kicked in. China followed a similar pattern, but had to wait until 2005 for brightening to set in.

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The Guardian, 13 May 2020: Drop in pollution may bring hotter weather and heavier monsoons