Environmental Science and Engineering Seminar
Aerosol pollution is not only a major air quality and public health concern, it is also a key player in climate change—offsetting as much as a third of greenhouse gas-driven warming over the industrial era and modifying rainfall patterns worldwide. But the regions responsible for emissions have shifted dramatically, as the rise of clean air regulations and global trade have relocated hotspots of industrial activity. In this talk, we will explore the implications of aerosol's shifting geography for their climate effects and associated societal impacts. I will present results from global climate model simulations demonstrating that aerosols' effect on global-scale temperature and precipitation depend strongly on the geographic location of their source. I will highlight recent analysis that connects these physical system effects with their impacts on human health and agricultural and economic productivity to create a geographically-resolved picture of the marginal damages of aerosol emissions from different regions. Finally, I will make the case that evolving aerosol emissions will be a key driver of uncertainty in regional climate impacts in the next few decades that must be more robustly accounted for in our climate risk assessments.