Weekday car pollution leads to lightning strikes

January 16th, 2009 - 3:02 pm ICT by ANI  

London, Jan 16 (ANI): Fumes coming out of your car not only lead to pollution and global warming, but may also cause an increase in lightning strikes for miles around.

Owing to weekdays, the rush of road vehicles leads to a rise in air pollution, which in turn modifies rainfall patterns both at the weekend and during the week by creating stronger updrafts of air and bigger clouds.

But now, scientists at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem have found that the weekday pollution can also bring lightning as well as rain.

Led by Daniel Rosenfeld, researchers counted strikes recorded across the US by the ground-based National Lightning Detection Network in June to August, from 1998 to 2008.

And they observed that in the southeastern states, lightning strikes increased with pollution by as much as 25 per cent during the working week.

They explained that the moist, muggy air in this region, leads to the formation of low-lying clouds with plenty of space to rise and generate the charge thats enough to trigger an afternoon thunderstorm.

However, the effect was not strongest within big cities with high pollution, but was more pronounced in the suburbs and rural areas surrounding them.

“There is a misconception that if you get away from cities, you get away from the pollution. Actually, it follows you for hundreds of miles,” New Scientist magazine quoted Rosenfeld as saying.

He said that the heat generated by urban areas might locally override pollution’’s effect on lightning.

Rosenfeld presented the research at the American Geophysical Union meeting in December. (ANI)

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