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Coal Power Stations Disrupt Regional Rainfall

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Modern coal-fired power stations produce more ultrafine dust particles than road traffic and can even modify and redistribute rainfall patterns, according to a 15-year international study published in the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society (

The study indicates that the filtration systems of modern coal-fired power stations are the biggest source of ultrafine particles (UFP), and can have considerable impacts on climate in several ways.

Prof Wolfgang Junkermann from the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology and Prof Jorg Hacker from Airborne Research Australia – who are affiliated with Flinders University – found that:

  • modern coal-fired power stations emit more UFP than urban road traffic;
  • UFP can harm human health;
  • UFP can affect rainfall distribution on local to regional scales by increasing the condensation nuclei count; and
  • UFP can be transported in layers with high concentrations for hundreds of kilometres, and then lead to localised spikes in short-term particle concentrations at ground level far from their source.

The research also found that ultrafine particle concentrations have increased continuously since modern coal-fired power stations were commissioned around the world. While forest fires,...

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