Tornadoes Go Easy on the Weekends-Pollution Connected To Heavy Weather
By Scott Johnson, Ars Technica
One of the classic sci-fi doomsday machines is the weather manipulator. What better way to bend the world to your will than taking control of the weather? It seems, however, that labor regulations may have beaten mad scientists to the punch.
Past studies have identified weekly cycles in a variety of weather phenomena, including rainfall, lightning, and storm heights. It’s called the weekend effect, and it’s thought to be be linked to the industrial air pollution associated with the five-day work week, though there has been a lot of discussion about the mechanics of that connection. These aren’t global analyses—many of these studies have focused on the southeastern United States during the summer months, though similar trends have been identified in other regions, as well. There’s a good reason for this. It seems that warm, moist conditions are a pre-requisite for the effect to manifest.
Aerosols and hail
So what is behind this apparent linkage between air pollution and violent weather events? Unlike the fabled inverse relationship between pirate population and global warming, there’s a good physical basis for the connection: it comes down to heat transport.