Pollution from Europe helped cause a drought in India that was one of the country’s worst ever natural disasters, affecting more than 130 million people, according to new research.
Sulphur dioxide – produced mainly by coal-fired power plants – causes a number of harmful effects, such as acid rain, heart and lung diseases, and damage to plant growth.
But sulphate aerosols also have a cooling effect on the atmosphere because it reflects sunlight back into space, a property that has led some to suggest it could be used as a form of ‘geo-engineering’ to reduce the rate of global warming.
However, emissions from the northern hemisphere can change the relative rate of warming in the south, causing the tropical rain-band to shift – with potentially devastating results.
Now researchers at Imperial College London have calculated just how big an effect emissions of sulphur dioxide had on rainfall in India in 2000.
The north-west of India experienced …
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