EPA provides $8.5m to protect air quality in changing climate

Researchers will investigate impact of drought and land use changes, as well as air quality from increased nitrogen-based fertilizer use.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced $8.5 million in research funding awarded to 12 universities to protect air quality from the current and future challenges associated with the impacts of climate change.

“The research funded by these grants will improve our understanding of how climate change is impacting our air and our health,” said Thomas A. Burke, EPA science adviser and deputy assistant administrator of EPA’s Office of Research & Development. “By examining the relationship between air quality and climate change, this research will help better protect human health and the environment.”

Research has shown that climate change can affect air quality and public health. With the EPA funding, researchers will expand investigations to understand health impacts from smoke due to an increase in the number of wildfires as a result of climate change. Other research will look at potential consequences of increased levels of dust from particle pollution on human health and visibility. Drought and land use changes in the western U.S. that may affect the incidence of dust storms and the impacts to air quality from increased nitrogen-based fertilizer use will also be studied. Atmospheric changes in air pollution chemistry that are occurring due to climate change is another area that will be evaluated.

The grants, funded through the agency’s Science to Achieve Results (STAR) program, are being awarded to the following institutions:

•           University of California-Davis, Davis, Cal., for optimal energy portfolios to sustain economic advantage, achieve greenhouse gas targets and minimize particulate matter (PM) 2.5.

•           University of California-Irvine, Irvine, Cal., for effects of ammonia on secondary organic aerosol formation in a changing climate.

•           University of Colorado-Boulder, Boulder, Colo., for rethinking the formation of secondary organic aerosols under a changing climate by incorporating mechanistic and field constraints.

•           Colorado State University, Ft. Collins, Colo., for planning for an unknown future, incorporating meteorological uncertainty into predictions of the impact of fires and dust on particulate matter.

•           Columbia University, New York, N.Y., for quantifying risks from changing U.S. PM2.5 distributions due to climate variability and warming with large, multi-model ensembles and high-resolution downscaling.

•           Emory University, Atlanta, Ga., for wildfires in the Rocky Mountains region: current and future impacts on PM2.5, health and policy.

•           Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, Ga., for integrated analysis of land use-based policies for improving air and water quality, with a focus on agricultural reactive nitrogen and wildland fire emissions as climate, land use and anthropogenic emissions change.

•           Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, Ga., for the effect of ammonia on organic aerosols in a changing climate.

•           Harvard University, Cambridge, Mass., for effects of changes in climate and land use on U.S. dust and wildfire PM.

•           University of Maryland, College Park, College Park, Md., for PM prediction and source attribution for U.S. air quality management in a changing world.

•           University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, N.M., for evaluating the timeline of PM exposure from urban transportation and land use greenhouse gas mitigation strategies using a novel modeling framework.

•           Washington State University, Pullman, Wash., for an ensemble analysis of global change projections for U.S. air quality using a novel combination of lagrangian and gridded air quality models.

•           University of Wyoming, Laramie, Wyo., for interplay between black and brown carbon from biomass burning and climate.

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