Scientists say warming climate could reduce inversions
SALT LAKE CITY– Winter is known for temperature inversion in Utah, but researchers at the Utah Climate Center say climate change may make them less frequent in the future.
Jon Meyer is climate researcher with the Utah Climate Center at Utah State University. Meyer said the individual ingredients that cause inversions may be affected by climate change and reduce the frequency of inversions.
How do inversions happen?
Normally, air temperatures rise with the altitude. However, in winter this pattern can “invert,” meaning cooler air is trapped in valleys beneath a lid of warmer, calm air, thereby affecting a temperature inversion.
As the climate warms, researchers said snowfall and high pressure systems may be affected. The snow cover season is becoming shorter and more discontinuous throughout the winter time, said Meyer. Therefore, the weather conditions that would create conditions for a temperature inversion would be less common.
Climate change to reduce inversions, make air pollution worse
The Utah Climate Center said although climate change could reduce inversions in Utah, air pollution will still be a problem, and likely get worse in Utah.
Meyer noted the drying of the Great Salt Lake as a concern for air pollution. He explained the lake bed contains certain pollutants like heavy metals. As more of it is exposed, summer winds can pick up those pollutants and mix them with the pollution created by cars.
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