TEL AVIV, Israel, April 27 (UPI) — Israeli scientists say they’ve determined particulate matter emitted in smoke by fires can affect rainfall and lightning patterns in thunderstorms.
Researchers led by Tel Aviv University Professor Colin Price said they studied fires used in the Amazon for slash-and-burn foresting and how clouds are affected by particulate matter emitted by fires.
Along with colleagues at the Weizmann Institute and the Open University in Israel, the scientists said they found low levels of particulates help the development of thunderstorms, but once a certain concentration is reached, the particles inhibit the formation of clouds, thunderstorms and lightning.
Cloud droplets form on small particles called “cloud condensation nuclei,” the researchers said, and as the number of nuclei increase due to fire activity, lightning activity increases in the storms ingesting the smoke. More lightning generally implies more rainfall. But when particulate matter became too dense, the scientists said clouds didn’t form and lightning activity dramatically diminished.
“One of the most debated topics related to future climate change is what will happen to clouds and rainfall if the Earth warms up, and how will clouds react to more air pollution in the atmosphere,” Price said.
He said his team’s findings may have significant implications for polluted regions of the world that rely on rainfall for agriculture and human consumption.
The study appeared in a recent issue of the journal Geophysical Research Letters.
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