Science 3 min read

Global Study: Coal-Fired Power Stations Disrupt Rainfall

Coal-fired powerplants could be even more harmful than previously thought. ¦ Pixabay

Coal-fired powerplants could be even more harmful than previously thought. ¦ Pixabay

Are you currently experiencing unusual rainfall patterns? According to a new study, it may be from a local coal-fired power station.

According to a 15-year global study, modern coal power stations produce more ultra-fine dust than road traffic. The research suggests that dust particles can have a significant impact on climate change in several ways.

Before now, the general assumption was that road traffic was the primary source of small particle emissions. Aside from its negative impact on the environment, researchers also pointed out its negative health effects.

However, recent studies carried out by researchers – Professor Wolfgang Junkermann from the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) in Germany and Professor Jorg Hacker from Airborne Research Australia – suggests that this is not entirely true.

A long-term measurement revealed that coal-fired power stations affect regional climate more than road traffic. Here is the reason.

How Coal-Fired Power Stations Affect Regional Climate

A recent publication in the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society shows that coal power stations emit an enormous amount of ultrafine particles (UFP). And that’s due to the filtering technology of the exhaust gas.

As scary as that may sound, that’s not even the sad part.

Since several locations across the world have commissioned modern coal-fired power stations, UFP concentration is on a continuous rise globally.

For the study, the researchers took measurement flights in Australia, Europe, and Mexico using two small research aircraft.

Equipped with several highly sensitive instruments and sensors, the planes are reportedly the smallest flying laboratories in the world. Together, the aircrafts measured the temperature, humidity, wind, and energy balances. It also included other measurements such as dust particles and trace gases.

With access to data from the planes and meteorological observations, the scientists were able to trace back the origin of the UFP; the fossil power stations.

One of the researchers, Professor Hacker wrote;

“In this way, we found that fossil power stations have for many years become the strongest individual sources of ultra-fine particles worldwide. They massively influence meteorological processes and may cause extreme weather events, including intensive rain events.”

Hacker explains that the ultra-fine particle’s ability to redistribute rainfall could cause unusual weather phenomenon. For example, while some places can experience a drier than usual condition, others can get unusually heavy and persistent rain.

“The UFP offer surfaces for chemical reactions in the atmosphere or may influence the properties of clouds and precipitation,” says co-author Professor Junkermann.

Which Particle Size is Considered An Environmental Hazard?

According to the paper, as little as 100nm diameter UFP can influence the properties of clouds and precipitation, and ultimately disrupt the environmental process.

Since particles from fire forests, dust storms, volcanic eruptions, and open nature are not in the nanometer range, they don’t fall under the UFP category.

Read More: Milestone: Australia Chooses Climate Change Over Coal

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Sumbo Bello

Sumbo Bello is a creative writer who enjoys creating data-driven content for news sites. In his spare time, he plays basketball and listens to Coldplay.

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