Humanity and the Weather

Air Pollution

Can weather actually make pollution worse?

Yes, and it can alleviate it, as well. Rain, for instance, can wash away haze over cities, and wind can blow it away. Stagnant air masses, humid air, or temperature inversions, on the other hand, will allow pollution to build up. During the night, “nocturnal inversions” cause carbon monoxide to build up around freeways and other high-traffic areas. On the other hand, “mixed layer” conditions help to disperse pollutants when temperatures decrease over several thousand feet at a rate of about 4.5°F (2.5°C) for every thousand feet (about 300 meters) or so.


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