Today, Thursday 7th September, draws attention to air pollution. This comes through the observance of the International Day of Clean Air for Blue Skies. Elected by the United Nations General Assembly, the day gives further prominence to understanding impacts of air pollution and highlighting the urgency for improvements to our air. This year focuses on the theme, ‘Together for Clean Air’, addressing a collective effort in combating air pollution. The day seems even more topical in England this year, notably in the South-East, with the expansion of London’s Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ), becoming “the largest pollution charging zone in the world”.
Extreme weather caused by air pollution
With greater air pollution comes larger volumes of greenhouse gases collecting in the Earth’s atmosphere. These gases trap heat in the atmosphere, impacting weather patterns, temperature and extreme weather frequency. Academic research substantiates this link, with Fan et al. (2015) showing correlations between polluted air and heavier rainfall at night in downwind areas in China’s Sichuan Basin.
Flood risk comes with extreme weather
If ill-equipped with effective drainage systems, intense rainfall brings high chance of your land flooding. Rainfall of heavy intensity may leave soil vulnerable to becoming fully saturated with water. If water is unable to effectively drain, lack of infiltration is likely to cause more standing water and potential flooding. Additionally, fully saturated soil on a hill could create surface runoff which leaves the ground at the foot of the hill further vulnerable to flood. Similar flooding issues could occur following long periods of drought. This is due to soil becoming baked, leading to lack of infiltration if rainfall heavily pours and increasing the possibility of flooding. Furthermore, heat being trapped by pollutants in the atmosphere can contribute to increasing flood in and around coastlines. As global seas become warmer, sea levels rise, leaving low-lying coastal land vulnerable to flooding.
As emphasised by the ‘Together for Clean Air’ theme for this year’s International Day of Clean Air for Blue Skies, we should be all trying to reduce air pollution in the Earth’s atmosphere. Flooding can be caused by extreme weather which is becoming more frequent. We at Unda can help with getting your site assessed for flood risk as well as providing professional advice on drainage systems to be implemented. Get in touch with Unda today for help from our team of flood risk consultants.