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Chinese Pollution Joining Illegal Immigrants Into America

Somebody call Donald Trump — Chinese pollution has joined the long list of illegal immigrants making its way across the seas and into America.

air pollution standards ChinaInto America’s atmosphere, at least.

A new study published in the journal Nature Geoscience has shown how pollution making its way across the Pacific Ocean from China is impacting the United States’ atmosphere, and undoing much of the work done to eradicate unhealthy ozone pollution. Specifically, it answers long-held concerns that ozone levels on the west coast of the US remained constant despite significant reduction in ozone-forming chemicals.

“The dominant westerly winds blew this air pollution straight across to the United States,” said Willem Verstraeten of the Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute, and lead researcher of the report. “In a manner of speaking, China is exporting its air pollution to the West Coast of America.”

“Rapid population growth and industrialization have driven substantial increases in Asian ozone precursor emissions over the past decade, with highly uncertain impacts on regional and global tropospheric ozone levels,” write the authors of the report in their introduction (PDF).

We’ve seen a lot about China’s damaging pollution, and its attempts to curtail and decrease the levels of carbon dioxide pollution, amongst others. But any changes are going to be hard fought, with China’s population continuing to grow, which will continue to force the need to rely on heavy emission-laden electricity generation and transport.

The study used satellite data to study a zone nine and three kilometers high, and found that there was a strong correlation between ozone at that level and closer to Earth’s surface. Specifically, approximately half of the increase in ozone over China during the period involved in the study (2005-2010) came from the ground up, and another half descended from the stratosphere.

“China itself lies downwind from India and other parts of Asia,” notes Roth Doherty of the University of Edinburgh in a commentary, also in Nature Geoscience. “It remains to be established how the free tropospheric ozone trend over China is in turn influenced by emissions upwind.”

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