Wildfire Smokes and Clouds – Do One Cause the Other?

environment

A new study shows that smoke from wildfires could cause less rain and would change the way clouds deposit water on Earth.

fire-storm
fire-storm (click here for original source image)

In many parts of the world, fires have been burning for decades or even centuries. They have been responsible for changing the environment in many ways. Most people have noticed a vast change in the climate over the past few decades. This is because global temperatures have risen dangerously.

In many parts of the planet, daytime temperatures have increased by about three degrees Fahrenheit. Researchers have long thought that this increase in temperature was caused by the smoke cloud that settled over the northern hemisphere. However, it turned out that clouds formed in the warm air, and stayed put during cold seasons, but then exploded in the warmest seasons. It made scientists wonder if changes in the kind of smoke particles released from fires could alter cloudiness and precipitation.

Two of the most studied climate processes are precipitation and cloud cover. If changes in these processes can impact cloud cover and precipitation, it may help determine whether or not human interference in the process might increase the risk of extreme weather events. For instance, researchers have long thought that clouds might help reflect heat from the sun but not necessarily prevent the absorption of solar radiation. If clouds can be made less thick or lightened, it might change the way we predict the location of clouds and the amount of rainfall we get.

In experiments with tree leaves and stems, researchers have found that when those materials are exposed to high temperatures they become less dense and form small white cloud droplets. In laboratory tests, they have found that particles from green plants absorbed more UV radiation than those from black trees. When these particles are dropped from the sky. When you drop a cloud of any color, it really matters whether it can be seen or not.

The study also showed that smoke caused by wildfires affects the behavior of small cumulus clouds. Smaller cumulus clouds have a slower rotation speed, which means they are more likely to collapse. However, when the smoke is just a few tens of kilometers away, slower cloud formation rates occur, which leads to a slower collapse. The slower clouds also tend to darken more quickly, which can increase the amount of precipitation that falls.

The new study found that two types of smoke affect the behavior of clouds. Those that come from grasses and brush act as condensation nuclei, or nuclei that attach themselves to colder, higher-lying clouds. The thicker the smoke particles are, the greater the ability of condensation nuclei to attach themselves to clouds. This new study found that only about 10% of smoke particles are able to attach themselves to the highest cloud structures.

The second type of cloud droplet effect comes from organic aerosols in the smoke. A recent study found that the same cognitive (organic) particle that can cause rain to form can also increase the rate at which cloud droplets form. These particles include herbicides and pesticides, which act on seed and stem cells, and form droplets that can increase the rate at which rain falls. The findings of this study is particularly relevant to understanding “the focus of planting and farming of environmental quality systems.”

Both of these studies come as the result of Science Foundations solicitation that asked researchers to examine the relationship between wildfire smoke and clouds. Labs conducted a study looking at the relationship between two different types of smoke and two types of clouds. Researchers examined data from the last two years in Alaska. They found that while there was a significant relationship between two particles and clouds, there was no such relationship between dust and clouds, which is consistent with earlier studies.

In a related study, researchers examined data from Australia and found that wind swept granular condensation nuclei (gases that combine with clouds to form clouds) are responsible for rain.

Provided by Antonio Westley


Disclaimer: This article is meant to be seen as an overview of this subject and not a reflection of viewpoints or opinions as nothing is definitive. So, make sure to do your research and feel free to use this information at your own discretion.



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