Air pollution in eastern China over the last 50 years has led to a reduction in rainfall, according to a Swedish-led study.
A team of climate researchers from the USA, China and Sweden found that in some parts of eastern China, where most people live and where pollutant emissions are greatest, the number of days with rain had dropped by 23 per cent in 50 years.
Writing in the Journal of Geophysical Research Atmospheres, researchers said the lack of rainfall was directly linked to concentrations of aerosol, small particles surrounded by gas and water, in the atmosphere.
Collecting data from 162 weather stations in China, researchers found that high levels of aerosol led to smaller raindrops.
As it is more difficult for smaller raindrops to form into rain clouds that can release rain this results in less rainfall.
Heavy pollution suppresses light rain