An expert on atmospheric climate will discuss “Impacts of Forests and Land Use on Aerosols and Climate” on Wednesday, Nov. 7, at noon in Burke Auditorium as part of the F&ES research seminar series.
Nadine Unger, assistant professor of climate science, will discuss how ozone, methane and aerosol particulates and their indirect effect on clouds significantly affect regional and global climate.
Carbon dioxide is the most important contributor to human-induced climate change, however climate is also strongly influenced by shorter-lived gases (methane and ozone) and aerosol particulates (sulfate, soot, dust), collectively called short-lived climate forcers (SLCFs) that have complex effects involving both warming and cooling. Carbon dioxide, other long-lived greenhouse gases (GHGs), including nitrous oxide and halocarbons, and the short-lived climate forcers are often linked through common emission sources.
Many of the short-lived climate forcers are associated with other environmental problems, including acid rain and poor air quality. For example, ozone and particulates are known to damage human and ecosystem health and agriculture.
To date, the feedbacks from changes in land cover change have not been considered in assessments of historical and future short-lived climate forcers. The lack of information on these changing interactions, which perturb emissions of reactive carbon from vegetation, deposition rates of pollution to ecosystems and the underlying surface albedo, represents a major uncertainty in the ability to assess the climate and air quality benefits of reductions in the short-lived climate forcers.
“A major challenge faced by humanity is that 50 percent of the expected GHG warming due to the Industrial Revolution is masked by the net cooling effect of the pollution aerosol particulates,” said Unger.