Air pollution causing “warming hole” over the US
Temperatures are increasing on a global scale. But in the central and eastern United States warming has not kept pace with other parts of the world over much of the last century.
Parts of the United States cooled between 1930 and 1990. Climate scientists have taken to calling the large area of cooling a “warming hole” because the areas surrounding it have warmed at a faster rate. As shown in this map bellow, which is based on data from NASA’s Surface Temperature Analysis (GISTEMP), areas of the greatest cooling are blue; those that warmed are red.
The right cause of “warming hole” over US have puzzled researchers for more than a decade. Some researchers suggested natural variations in sea surface temperatures might be responsible, but a new study puts the focus on sulfates, a type of aerosol produced by coal power plants that’s known for causing acid rain. Sulfates are light-colored, and they cause cooling by scattering and reflecting sunlight. They also lower temperatures indirectly by making clouds more reflective and long-lasting.
The researchers, led by Eric Leibensperger of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, used global climate models to estimate the cooling effect sulfates have had on the climate of the United States since 1950. As seen in the map bellow, they found that between 1970 and 1990—the period when sulfates were at their highest levels—average temperatures were nearly 1°Celsius (1.8°Fahrenheit) cooler in a core area centered on Arkansas and Missouri and about 0.7°Celsius cooler in a larger tear-drop region throughout the Midwest and Mid-Atlantic. The cooling effect extended into the North Atlantic Ocean as well; sulfate pollution lowered sea surface temperatures there by 0.3°Celsius.
Research also shows that the cooling effect from sulfates is diminishing. According to Environmental Protection Agency estimates, the amount of sulfur dioxide (a precursor to sulfates) released into the atmosphere fell by 58 % between 1980 and 2010. Satellites have confirmed the decrease; the Ozone Monitoring Instrument (OMI) on the Aqua satellite observed a sharp decline in sulfates over the eastern United States between 2005 and 2010.
As a response to the declining sulfate levels, Leibensperger’s modeling shows temperatures over the central and eastern United States have increased by 0.3°Celsius between 1980 and 2010. According to research, sulfate concentrations have declined so much already that the impact of future decreases won’t be nearly as substantial. (EarthObservatory)
If you value what we do here, create your ad-free account and support our journalism.
Your support makes a difference
Dear valued reader,
We hope that our website has been a valuable resource for you.
The reality is that it takes a lot of time, effort, and resources to maintain and grow this website. We rely on the support of readers like you to keep providing high-quality content.
If you have found our website to be helpful, please consider making a contribution to help us continue to bring you the information you need. Your support means the world to us and helps us to keep doing what we love.
Support us by choosing your support level – Silver, Gold or Platinum. Other support options include Patreon pledges and sending us a one-off payment using PayPal.
Thank you for your consideration. Your support is greatly appreciated.
Commenting rules and guidelines
We value the thoughts and opinions of our readers and welcome healthy discussions on our website. In order to maintain a respectful and positive community, we ask that all commenters follow these rules:
We reserve the right to remove any comments that violate these rules. By commenting on our website, you agree to abide by these guidelines. Thank you for helping to create a positive and welcoming environment for all.
All Valid excuses but has anyone ever considered HAARP?
No need to show any Links as they can be Googled.
Given the large release of methane from melting glaciers and warmer oceans producing more CO2 the idea pollution is doing this is almost laughable. Don’t forget the huge amount of solar radiation in the atmosphere from fukashima. This is a result of many elements coming together that will do a lot more than just make it hotter in the US. It could be the end of life as we know it unless someone comes up with some solutions in the very near future. I love it how they always try to blame the problem on humans i.e. driving an suv to make us feel guilty. These problems are both natural and created by the elite scum to carry out a specific and unimaginable end game. But yeah it’s probably from Global Warming or something like that…just ask Al Gore.
I meant to say nuclear radiation from fukashima not solar…
I agree with Justin C. Their excuses are always transparent if you look close enough and use half a brain, but the elite scum think we are all morons, and that we are all so involved in our lives, and activity, and TV, travel, going out to restaurants, the movies, the football games……DISTRACTIONS, are what these scum bags think will keep us from knowing the truth! There is so much radiation blowing around with the air, carrying it everywhere and people have died in other parts of the world because of this but we ar hearing nothing, because they are simply concluding cancer! Keep an eye on disease increase and especially cancer over the next couple of years, if we all live that long. A news station put out the fact that 250 flight attendants have come down witha mystery illness, losing hair, skin lesions and nausea/vomiting, well suprise these are symptoms to radiation exposure, not their uniforms. GLobal warming may or may not be, either way it is caused by pollution, chemicals, barium and aluminum in the air mixed with radiation, and let’s not forget all of the radiation and man-made parts orbiting the earth, that governments have created and ignored, again thinking we know nothing about it! So may people are sick today and it is not coincidence IT IS INTENTIONAL!! There are so many players, not just the elite, there are so many people who will do anything for the right price so like the US government, they use other people to do their dirty work….these people are jsut as bad if not worse that the elite, because they have sold their soul and will be judged when that day is here and it won’t be too much longer. For those of you who believe in a man-made religion rather than GOD and his church IN HEAVEN (not on earth-imposters of GOD’s church), learn that God is in your heart and not any of these man-made churches on this earth, they are keeping you from the real GOD. As for al gore, he’s an idiot making billions off of this so-called fake global warming, but he is one of the evils of the world, reeping rewards off of fear mongering,and he will be judged and thrown into the lake of fire with most politicians on all levels and their dirty little workers!
The atmosphere is a highly complex environment and our temperatures react to solar activities as does the moon and oceans. This is not say pollution is not affecting anything, it should always figure into the equation. The answer is not so easy. In my opinion, the ozone breakdown is serious and the harmful effects on the human race substantial. Maybe that should be ‘Warming Hole(s)’