South Korea proposes artificial rain project as air quality worsens

By Eric Leister, AccuWeather senior meteorologist
March 08, 2019, 7:48:16 AM EST

Poor air quality has become a rising concern throughout South Korea in recent months as below-normal rainfall and air stagnation have resulted in worsening air quality.

Air quality is often measured by the concentration of dangerous microscopic particulate matter (PM2.5) in the air at any given time.

These particles can travel deep into a person's lungs and result in damage, disease or even premature death.

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People wearing masks to protect from air pollution walk at a bus station in Seoul, South Korea, Wednesday, March 6, 2019. (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)


From Tuesday into Wednesday, the PM2.5 measured between 162 and 237 in Seoul, falling into the unhealthy to very unhealthy categories.

This level of pollution can cause health effects in all people, with serious risks for sensitive groups such as the elderly, children and anyone with respiratory illnesses.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in announced on Wednesday a proposed joint project with China to create artificial rain in an attempt to lower levels of air pollution both in China and South Korea, according to the Associated Press.

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The South Korean government is hopeful that creating artificial rain over the Yellow Sea would help air quality in both countries.

Government officials were also instructed to end the use of coal-burning power plants that have been operating for more than 30 years as quickly as possible.

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Across western South Korea, lighter winds and little or no rainfall will provide limited relief from the ongoing air quality issues for the end of the week.

However, the weather is also expected to bring some relief from the recent days of poor air quality.

A stronger storm system will pass south of South Korea on Sunday, bringing heavy rainfall to the southern half of the country and light to moderate rainfall to northern areas.

This rainfall may bring dramatic improvement to air quality across the region and result in the lowest PM2.5 values recorded in recent weeks.

More unsettled weather could continue to improve the air quality into early next week.

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