Burning waste could be leading to more lighting deaths — CSE

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india-cloudA new study by Down To Earth magazine has unearthed clear links between air pollution and the incidence of deaths by lightning.

According to an article in the magazine, published by the Center for Science and Environment or CSE, areas with high particulate pollution tend to experience more number of extreme weather events.

Lightning deaths in the past decade establish this connection, the article said, quoting scientists.

Since the year 2000, over 30,000 have died in India due to lightning strikes making it the leading weather-related cause of death in the country.

The maximum number of lightning deaths comes from the Gangetic plains, central India and the Deccan plateau regions that are home to the most polluting industries and burning of waste, it said.

“Greater the number of aerosols (suspended particles), larger is the number of cloud droplets,” said CSE. “More cloud droplets do not necessarily mean more rain. As cloud water gets distributed among too many aerosols, they result in larger numbers of small droplets, which do not produce rain. Polluted air, therefore, can suppress rainfall,” CSE said.

Aerosols are tiny microscopic particles that are constantly being released into the atmosphere. These can be natural – like dust – or human-made, like vehicular exhaust or emissions from power plants. Water vapour condenses on these particles to form cloud droplets.

Clouds are a key component of the climate system because they help regulate the planet’s temperature.

Clouds are responsible for both heating up and cooling down the planet, depending on their type and where they are located, writes the Down to Earth Magazine.

Down To Earth magazine is a Indian science and environment fortnightly, established by the Society for Environmental Communications.

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