Air, Climate, and Energy Research Newsletter: August 2013
Air, Climate, and Energy Research Program Update
*Click on the title to go to the full PDF version of the article
Feature: Research supports the President’s Climate Action Plan (PDF) (5 pp, 346K)
On June 25, President Obama announced a Climate Action Plan designed to respond to the challenges posed by climate change. EPA provided research to help prepare the U.S. for the impacts of climate change, which is one of the three pillars of the President’s Plan.
Research in the Regions
EPA researchers are participating in one of the largest studies of the North American atmosphere in decades -- the Southeast Atmosphere Study (SAS) . From June 1- July 15, researchers collected data on atmospheric chemistry in Alabama, Tennesse and North Carolina for the Southern Oxidant and Aerosol Study (SOAS) , which is a part of the larger SAS study.
EPA and NASA scientists are working on a multi-year study to help scientists better understand how to measure and forecast air quality globally from space. The NASA-led mission is called DISCOVER-AQ.
The developers of the Integrated Climate and Land Use Scenarios (ICLUS) project have upgraded the tool, which is used to understand the effects of future interactions between climate and land-use change in the U.S.
Ozone and Extreme Events Webinar, Aug. 21, 2:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m. EDT: Attend the next webinar of the Applied Science Webinar Series. In this webinar, Arlene Fiore of the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, Columbia University, will discuss her ongoing EPA STAR project on air pollution episodes, meteorology and how they are changing.
What you will learn:
- What factors affected the frequency and severity of ozone episodes?
- How do meteorology and climate affect U.S. ozone?
- What are important considerations when thinking about future ozone episodes?
ACE Publication Highlights
- Air Pollution Epidemiology Studies Explore Alternative Prediction Approaches
Researchers look into alternative exposure prediction approaches instead of just using central-site monitors when conducting epidemiology studies on personal exposure to air pollution. Below are the links to articles that have been published in the Journal of Exposure Science and Environmental Epidemiology:
- Introduction to Air Pollution Exposure Prediction Approaches Used in Air Pollution Epidemiology Studies (PDF) (7 pp, 337K)
- Refined Ambient PM2.5 Exposure Surrogates and the Risk of Myocardial Infarction (PDF) (8 pp, 435K)
- Influence of Human Activity Patterns, Particle Composition, and Residential Air Exchange Rates on Modeled Distributions of PM2.5 Exposure Compared with Central-Site Monitoring Data (PDF) (7 pp, 442K)
- Spatiotemporally Resolved Air Exchange Rate as a Modifier of Acute Air Pollution-Related Morbidity in Atlanta (PDF) (10 pp, 1MB)
- Air Pollution Dispersion Models for Human Exposure Predictions in London (PDF) (7 pp, 939K)
The global threat of nitrogen deposition to plant biodiversity is increasingly recognized, and human activities have increased deposition of nitrogen in many areas. Only recently has it become possible to estimate the impacts of nitrogen, which is essential to studying the legacy effects of prior and current human activity. Better understanding the impacts will help to identify areas for restoration and protection. In an article in Ecology, researchers examine 26 years (1985-2010) of annual nitrogen deposition data (from field experiments and national databases) to derive six scenarios of estimated impacts.
Biofuels offer tremendous potential to transform economic and environmental landscapes in the U.S. However, some are worried about the possibility of using lands currently or formerly enrolled in the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) to achieve a low-carbon, energy-independent future produce biofuels. Quantitative modeling found that using CRP land to produce biofuels did little to promote industry growth. A complementary environmental assessment found that using CRP land to produce biofuels would have potentially serious detrimental environmental impacts, including degrading soil, water and air quality. Second-generation biofuels that use non-food feedstocks (e.g. switchgrass) have the greatest potential to provide energy with minimal environmental costs. The research is reported in Environmental Research Letters.
Nearly half the world’s population must rely on solid fuels such as biomass (e.g. wood and animal dung) and coal for household energy, burning them in inefficient open fires and stoves with poor ventilation. Household solid fuel combustion is associated with four million premature deaths annually; contributes to forest degradation, loss of habitat and biodiversity, and climate change; and hinders social and economic progress. EPA scientists and colleagues published an article in Environmental Science & Technology that provides information to enable adoption of cleaner and more efficient stoves and fuels.
In an Atmospheric Environment, article, researchers used a new method to study connections between meteorology, fire risk forecasts and area burned in North America. Then by using various models representing future climate scenarios, researchers calculated that by mid-21st century, the fire season length will increase by 23 days. Researchers also found that the increase in fires led to a significant increase in several types of particulate matter.
Researchers discovered strong associations between outdoor heat and respiratory hospitalizations in the largest elderly population studied to date. Given projections of increasing temperatures from climate change and the increasing global prevalence of chronic pulmonary disease, the relationship between heat and respiratory morbidity is a growing concern. This article was published in American Thoracic Society Journals.