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January 22, 2010 / Dave Gorham

Another Chinese Product Entering USA

Industrial machinery, pharmaceuticals, toys, food – all are famous (at times, infamous) imports to the United States from China. Due to the strong jet stream winds over the central North Pacific, you can now add one more import: Smog.

Last week, YWB blogged about the rate of energy consumption in China due to the extreme cold, and how power is being rationed across the country. As outside temperatures have dropped it’s been a struggle to maintain the inside temperatures, so the gas and coal industries in China are working overtime to supply the additional power. But it’s not just the temperature: We must also consider the booming Chinese economy which has been the main driver of increased energy production since well before the current cold outbreak and this increase will continue even as warmer temperatures return to the Asian continent. Of course, additional power provides more than just additional heat; it provides additional pollution.

[L.A. Smog. AP Photo; Nick Ut]

Let’s move to the atmosphere over the North Pacific. The winds there are simply howling above 30,000ft. The polar jet stream and the subtropical jet stream have been over 150knots (173mph) for the better part of the past two weeks. At times these weather pattern-drivers have been 200knots (230mph). It’s been practically a straight shot from China to California: 200mph winds have been driving pollutants eastward from China to the United States and in Los Angeles, ozone particulate is being measured that can be traced to Asia.

The air quality of Los Angeles, though cleaner than in the past, still ranks poorly and ozone levels have been on the rise for more than 10 years. The additional ozone, even though actual amounts are small, will further complicate efforts to control pollution. And this comes at a bad time, as the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is considering lowering current ozone limits and has been working with China to lower its emissions of the chemicals which lead to ozone formation.

[A screen-grab of yours truly detailing the very strong jet streams across the North Pacific for “Aviation Weather Today”. AWT is a daily video broadcast that details significant weather hazards for regions around the globe directed specifically at pilots and aircrews. Jet streams, turbulence, icing, thunderstorms are all part of an aviation weather briefing. (How to read winds and how to read a weather map.) The strong jet streams have been transporting pollution eastward, from China to California.]


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