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Increased coal use in China and India may cause droughts

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Staff writer ▼ | May 9, 2016
Continued reliance on energy derived from coal may have an unintended consequence to the environment in the countries where it is burned the most.
Coal China
Climate   The researchers looked at two scenarios
Along with all the negative health effects associated with coal-burning, the study published in the Journal of Climate concludes that if China and India keep increasing their share of coal-derived power, precipitation over a large expanse of land masses would be suppressed, resulting in drought conditions.

The researchers looked at two scenarios: one, a high-coal use future, where energy demand in Asia necessitates rapid increases in the burning of coal; and a second scenario where impacts of coal use are shifted by using cleaner-burning natural gas and renewables.

In the high-coal-use scenario where emissions double their year 2000 benchmark levels from 2030 to 2100, increased sulfate aerosols – mostly black carbon and sulfur dioxide (SO2) – released into the atmosphere would offset warming from greenhouse gas emissions including carbon dioxide.

This would result in a cooling effect throughout the Northern Hemisphere, along with South Asia and Southeast Asia. The cooling effects would suppress rainfall.

For the high-emissions scenario, we found reductions in rainfall across much of Asia, especially East Asia (including China) and South Asia (including India).


 

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