[F&ES 705b] / 2015-2016

Climate and Air Pollution Seminar

Credits: 3

Spring 2016: Time and location TBA


Carbon dioxide is the most important single contributor to human-induced climate change. However, climate is also strongly influenced by shorter-lived gases (especially 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, halocarbons and methane, and the SLCFs are often linked through common emission sources. Many of the SLCFs are associated with other environmental problems including acid rain and the degradation of air quality. For example, ozone and particulates are known to damage human and ecosystem health, and have detrimental impacts on agriculture. Therefore, in many cases, the SLCF are already subject to regulations in international agreements and national action plans. Air quality controls typically do not consider the effects on climate. Currently, climate policies and the Kyoto basket consider only the long-lived GHGs. Effective climate management to secure a safe climate future will require inclusion of both the GHGs and SLCFs. In this seminar, we will review current scientific understanding of the linkages between climate change and air pollution. Topics will include: short-lived climate forcers, climate sensitivity, impact of air pollution control measures on climate, geo-engineering and solar radiation management, metrics used in climate policy, and future climate change impacts on air quality in the United States and other regions. Active student participation is required. Meetings are divided between lecture, student presentation, structured discussion and invited external speakers. The course includes a group project to develop plausible multi-pollutant climate mitigation strategies that address key sectors in different world regions.