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Asia's growing cloud. (Updates).

From Afghanistan to Sri Lanka, Asia is covered in a two-mile-deep cloud of pollution that is responsible for the breathing-related deaths of hundreds of thousands of people every year. The existence of the cloud was reported in E's special global warming issue (see "Welcome to the Greenhouse Century," September/October 2000) but new scientific evidence reveals it to be larger and thicker than previously believed.

The cloud reduces the amount of solar radiation reaching the surface of the Indian Ocean by up to 15 percent. Two hundred UN-backed researchers mapped and studied the cloud. As detailed in an August news conference, the cloud is disrupting weather systems, triggering droughts in western Asia and could seriously affect the region's economic growth. Nobel Prize-winning atmospheric scientist Paul Crutzen stressed the need for greater awareness of the cloud's cause; he pointed out that in Nepal it is dismissed as "morning haze" and not air pollution. CONTACT: Indian Ocean Experiment, (858)534-8815,
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Author:Balsari, Saumya
Date:Nov 1, 2002
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