Hyderabad: Have the clouds been looking brighter than usual? No thanks to pollution. Scientists attribute this phenomena to the increasing amount of polluting particles in the air. For years, scientists have been observing changes in the clouds due to climate change and the gradual cloud ‘brightening’ is a result of the same that has been making spectacular clouds in the sky, especially in metros and industrial areas where the pollution level is higher.
Scientists said that pollution from factories and cars has been pumping aerosols into the air which has been combining with the water in the clouds. “More aerosols in the atmosphere produces smaller cloud droplets with the availability of the same amount of water vapor,” said Dr Arindam Chakraborty, assistant professor of Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore.
He added that when these smaller droplets form a cloud, it all together reflects more of sunlight and thus we have a whiter and brighter cloud. “Brighter clouds reflect back sun6s radiation into the space and have a cooling effect to the places right under it,” explained Professor J Srinivasan from Divecha Centre for Climate Change.
These aerosol-filled clouds hang around for a longer time in the atmosphere, because the droplets are split into many and do not bear enough wait to fall as raindrops. “So aerosols can impact the rainfall levels, but as they reflect back some of the sun's rays. They also have a cooling effect,” said Professor G Bala, faculty at Centre of Atmospheric and Oceanic Science.
But despite this reflective cover of aerosols, why do cities feel hotter? Professor Srinivas explained, “The Co2 emitted from the industries is simultaneously warming the surface so we can't notice the cooling effect of aerosols in clouds. While cities that pollute will have a shi-eld of these reflective brighter clouds, cleaner cities may have to suffer more heat caused by the polluting cities carbon emissions.”