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Smog and Global Warming: Chemistry on a Planetary Scale

Smog and Global Warming
Reported by
Karla Harby

Posted May 08, 2007


The interplay between air pollution and global climate change is at once complicated, inevitable, and positioned to have a noticeable effect on quality of life. Neither air pollution nor global change can be well understood—or well regulated—without acknowledgement of the other. As the complexities have multiplied, scientists have responded by creating novel laboratory simulation tools and sophisticated new models to study how smog and global warming interact. A February 28, 2007, meeting at the Academy recruited panelists with deep expertise in environmental regulation, atmospheric sciences, modeling and simulation, and exposure science to explore this subject.

Specific topics include ozone and fine particle matter pollution in the Eastern United States, models that indicate that a warmer climate is going to exacerbate some air pollution problems and mitigate others, and the need to use exposure science to inform air pollution control strategies.

Use the tabs above to find a meeting report and multimedia from this event.

Web Sites

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
This Climate Change portal provides links to a wide range of resources.

Ozone—Good up high, bad nearby
This online publication by the EPA explains the benefits and hazards of ozone in the atmosphere.

United Nations Environment Programme
Here you can find links to both scientific and policy information sources related to pollution and climate change.

NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS)
Scientists at the GISS study a broad range of global changes that affect the habitability of the planet.

U.S. Department of Energy
Air pollution and climate change are both addressed by this Web site.


Dessler AE, Parson EA. 2006. The Science and Politics of Global Climate Change: A Guide to the Debate. (Paperback) Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK.

Godish T. 2004. Air Quality, Fourth Edition. CRC Press, Boca Raton, FL.

Karnosky DF, Percy KE, Chappelka AH, Simpson C, Pikkarainen J. 2003. Air Pollution, Global Change and Forests in the New Millennium, Volume 3 (Developments in Environmental Science). Elsevier Science, St. Louis, MO.

Journal Articles

Air Quality over the Eastern United States

Rao ST, Ku JY, Berman S, et al. 2003. Summertime characteristics of the planetary boundary layer over the eastern United States and relationships to ambient ozone levels. Pure Appl. Geophys. 160: 21-55.

Vette A, Gavett S, Perry S, et al. 2004. Environmental research in response to 9/11 and homeland security. EM Magazine (February).

Air Quality and Climate Connections

Dentener F, Stevenson D, Ellingsen K, et al. 2006. The global atmospheric environment for the next generation. Environ. Sci. Technol. 40: 3586-3594.

Fiore AM, Horowitz LW, Dlugokencky EJ, West JJ. 2006. Impact of Meteorology and Emissions on Methane Trends, 1990-2004. Geophys. Res. Lett. 33: L12809. doi:10.1029/2006GL026199.

West JJ, Fiore AM, Naik V, et al. 2007. Ozone air quality and radiative forcing consequences of changes in ozone precursor emissions. Geophys. Res. Lett., in press.

West JJ, Fiore AM, Horowitz LW, Mauzerall DL. 2006. Mitigating ozone pollution with methane emission controls: Global health benefits. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 103: 3998-3993. Full Text

Health effects of particles and ozone

Kinney PL, Aggarwal M, Northridge ME, et al. 2000. Airborne concentrations of PM2.5 and diesel exhaust particles on Harlem sidewalks: a community-based pilot study. Environ. Health Perspect. 108: 213-218. (PDF, 189 KB) Full Text

Kinney PL, Lippmann M. 2000. Respiratory effects of seasonal exposures to ozone and particles. Archives Environ. Health 55: 210-216.

Lena TS, Ochieng V, Carter M, et al. 2002. Elemental carbon and PM2.5 levels in an urban community heavily impacted by truck traffic. Environ. Health Perspect. 110: 1009-1015. (PDF, 938 KB) Full Text


S. Trivikrama ("S. T.") Rao, PhD

Environmental Protection Agency
e-mail | web site

As director of the Atmospheric Modeling Division of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA), in partnership with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), S. T. Rao develops and executes research plans for modeling the transport and fate of air pollutants. His work uses an interdisciplinary approach, emphasizing integration and close cooperation with EPA and other public and private research communities. In addition, he serves as adjunct professor in the department of marine, earth and atmospheric sciences at North Carolina State University, and is a former assistant commissioner of the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. He earned his PhD in atmospheric science from the State University of New York in Albany.

Arlene M. Fiore, PhD

National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration
e-mail | web site | publications

Arlene Fiore is a research scientist at the Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory (GFDL) in Princeton, New Jersey, part of the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Her research involves the application of global tropospheric chemistry models to advance the understanding of how anthropogenic and natural pollutant emissions influence atmospheric chemistry, climate, and regional air pollution. Her current studies examine the contribution of biogenic emissions from vegetation to surface ozone smog, and the prospects for reducing surface ozone via controls on methane emissions. Fiore earned her PhD in earth and planetary sciences at Harvard University in 2003. She was honored with the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers in July 2006.

Patrick L. Kinney, ScD

Columbia University
e-mail | web site

Patrick L. Kinney is an associate professor in the Department of Environmental Health Sciences at the Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia University, New York City, and an air pollution epidemiologist with a strong interest in exposure assessment. He has carried out numerous epidemiologic studies addressing the human health effects of air pollution, including studies of the effects of ozone and particulate matter on children's lung function and on daily mortality in large cities. His recent work has focused on characterizing levels and determinants of indoor, outdoor, and personal exposures to air pollution in the underprivileged neighborhoods of New York City. He directed a National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS)-funded intervention trial seeking ways to reduce exposures to indoor allergens among asthmatic children living in Northern Manhattan and the South Bronx. He is also the principal investigator of a study characterizing air toxin exposures among minority high school students living in New York City and Los Angeles. Kinney co-directs the Exposure Assessment Cores of the Columbia Center for Children's Environmental Health and the Center for Environmental Health in Northern Manhattan. He also leads the New York Climate and Health Project, which is developing and testing an integrated modeling system for assessing potential future air quality and health effects of climate and land use changes in the New York City metropolitan area. He earned his doctorate from Harvard University in environmental science and physiology.

Karla Harby

As a journalist living near New York City, Karla Harby has written for Scientific American, Discover and the Reuters new agency. She holds a BA in race & ethnic relations from Michigan State University and an MS in journalism from Columbia University. In her other career, she is a professional flutist.