WILDFIRE SMOKE MAY LEAD TO LESS RAIN IN WEST
Results from a recent study are out. What can a team of atmospheric chemists tell us about the future of our summers?
Tiny particles found in wildfire smoke have been found to drastically affect the way moisture droplets form in clouds. As the smoke rises into the atmosphere bringing these particles with it, water collects within the cloud also. Researchers have discovered that although smoky clouds might carry up to five times more water than regular ‘clean’ clouds, the droplets are smaller in comparison, and apparently also less likely to fall due to their size.
We have already started to see an increase in wildfire activity alongside a reduction of rainfall throughout most of the Western coast of Canada and US. If wildfire smoke is making rain less likely, then the continuation of this negative feedback loop between smoke, dry spells and more fires could be more common in the future.
The microphysics of cloud science is complex. Yet, this new research has made a connection between wildfire smoke and cloud change, and tentatively, precipitation. Which I feel is a pretty big deal. It is pushing atmospheric physics and chemistry to catch up with climate change.
For all you weather nerds out there, have a read through this article on ScienceDaily if you’d like to learn more!