Home>News Center>China

Researcher: pollution limits sunshine in big cities
Updated: 2006-01-29 08:48

China's urban skies have darkened over the past 50 years, possibly due to haze resulting from a nine-fold increase in fossil fuel emissions, said researchers from the US Department of Energy, the Associated Press reported.

Traffic congestion on Beijing's third ring road is shown in this October 22, 2003 file photo. [newsphoto]

The researchers, writing in this month's edition of Geophysical Research Letters, found that the amount of solar radiation measured at more than 500 stations in China fell from 1954 to 2001 despite a decrease in cloud cover.

"Normally, more frequent cloud-free days should be sunnier and brighter but this doesn't happen in our study," said Yun Qian of the energy department's Pacific Northwest National Laboratory in Washington state.

"The pollution (that) resulted from human activity may have created a haze which absorbs and deflects the sun's rays," Qian, the study's lead author, was quoted by the Associated Press as saying.

Air pollution is widespread in China. Antiquated factories billow smoke, many residents still use coal to heat their houses, and a sharp increase in car ownership has bathed the motorways in exhaust fumes.

Using data from more than 500 weather stations in China, American researchers found the amount of sunlight hitting the ground has fallen by 3.7 watts per square yard in each of the last five decades amid a nine-fold increase in fossil fuel emissions.

The cloud cover data used in the study was obtained from the China Meteorological Administration through a bilateral agreement with the U.S. Department of Energy on global and regional climate change, the researchers said.

Herbert G. Fabian, who studies urban pollution and transportation issues for the Asian Development Bank, said the study's conclusion "makes sense" but that more information is needed.

"There really is (an) air pollution problem and a haze problem in China because (of) dust storms and pollution," said Fabian. "But we can't say conclusively that the reduction in sunlight is due to haze."

The study also said haze appears to have masked the impact of global warming by reflecting sunlight back into space and cooling the Earth's surface.

"The haze may have masked the effects of global warming across large parts of China, particularly in the central and eastern regions, where daily high temperatures have actually been decreasing," Qian said. "This may seem like good news, but any success China has in curbing emissions will accelerate the effects of global warming in those areas when the cooling mask is lifted."

China in festival mood
Dog receives double eye-lid operation
Reach for "Fu"
  Today's Top News     Top China News

Researcher: pollution limits sunshine in big cities



US urge Japan to halt nuclear fuel plan



Leaders spend New Year's Eve with farmers



At least 20 killed in Poland roof collapse



Names of panda couple for Taiwan unveiled



Iran to use missiles if attacked: Official


  Researcher: pollution limits sunshine in big cities
  Top leaders visit farmers on New Year's Eve
  Names of panda couple for Taiwan unveiled
  China's high-tech export grows 43.5% in past five years
  4,000 firefighters prep for Lunar New Year
  Chinese banks' NPL ratio falls to single figures
  Go to Another Section  
  Story Tools  
  Related Stories  
China sets 'green' tax incentives
China to limit building of luxury projects
China's top legislature to deliberate law on circular economy
Official: Songhua River pollutant density sharply down
Resources top concern in urbanization drive
Stricter environment laws hit lead smelters
China to close small paper plants to reduce pollution
  News Talk  
  It is time to prepare for Beijing - 2008  
Manufacturers, Exporters, Wholesalers - Global trade starts here.