The Madeleine Brand Show for December 7, 2011

Silver lining to Asian dust cloud: More snow in California

Winter Storm Forces Interstate 5 To Close

David McNew/Getty Images

Accumulated snow sits on trucks stranded because Interstate 5, the main route between Los Angeles, and Sacramento and San Francisco. Record snows last winter were accompanied by high amounts of Asian dust found in snow clouds. New research shows dust pollution carried over the Pacific could be causing heavier snowfall in California.

Asian dust pollution, kicked up by sandstorms in the interior deserts of the continent, could actually be causing heavier snowfall in California. New research from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in San Diego suggests that storm clouds with Asian dust drop more snow on the Sierra Nevada than clouds without the dust. This does not include industrial pollution from burning coal or car exhaust, which actually decreases precipitation. Professor Kimberly Prather joins Madeleine to explain the implications of the study.


Kimberly Prather, professor of chemistry and biochemistry at University of California San Diego; professor at the Scripps institute of Oceanography, UC San Diego; expert on air pollution

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