PhD_Project_Voulgarakis_2016_1 - Workspace

PhD Project Title: Exploring linkages between air pollution and climate change on
global and regional scales
Supervisor: Dr Apostolos Voulgarakis, Department of Physics, Imperial College London, UK.
Background: Air quality and climate change are
closely linked issues and understanding their
interactions is central to current Earth system
research and environmental policy. Emissions of
gases and aerosols not only degrade air quality,
but also affect the radiative balance of the
atmosphere, and thus drive global and regional
climate change. Short-lived pollutants such as
methane, ozone, sulphate and carbonaceous
inhomogeneous, and thus the radiative forcing that
they exert is complex. Recent studies have discussed that, when it comes to climate response,
forcings from such short-lived agents can be of comparable near-term importance to forcings from
long-lived greenhouse gases (e.g. CO2), with a heavy dependence on the location and the type of the
forcing. It is also expected that emissions from different activities (economic sectors) will have
different impacts, as the mix of constituents emitted varies strongly by sector.
Aim and methodology: In this project, we aim to systematically explore the influence of regional SLCP
emissions on the air quality and climate of vulnerable and important regions, such as South and East
Asia, Africa, South America, the Arctic, and highly populated areas in the northern mid-latitudes. For
this purpose, present-day and future composition-climate model simulations in which emissions from
different economic sectors (industrial/power, ground transportation, and domestic, amongst others)
and from fire are perturbed will be performed. The model to be used is the Met Office’s HadGEMUKCA composition-climate model, while part of the analysis will also be based on output from the
NASA GISS model. Emissions scenarios produced by the International Institute for Applied Systems
Analysis (IIASA) will be used to drive the simulations. Climate (temperature, circulation, precipitation)
and air quality (PM2.5, ozone) effects of these regional and sectorial emission changes will be
explored for different parts of the globe. The processes linking emissions with climate and air quality
responses will also be investigated, based on diagnostic analysis of the simulations, and on
knowledge that has been obtained from other ongoing projects in our group. We will perform both
coupled ocean-atmosphere and atmosphere-only simulations, to separate the slow and fast effects of
emission changes.
Importance and synergies: Fully coupled ocean-atmosphere simulations of the future evolution of
regional climate and air quality due to emission reductions from specific economic regions/sectors
and fire have not been performed systematically to date. This project aims to provide the first
systematic analysis of this kind. Therefore, it is expected to be a significant contribution to the
understanding of anthropogenic influences on regional climate change and air pollution. It will also
provide synergies with other related ongoing projects in the group, focusing on pollution influences on
atmospheric circulation in the mid-latitudes and on South Asian climate change. Furthermore, the
PhD student will interact frequently with colleagues from the NASA GISS institute and Duke University
(USA), and will visit the former through existing EU funding supporting atmospheric compositionclimate activities in the group. The visits are aimed at enhancing scientific interactions with the
researchers in the US, performing analysis on GISS model output, and exchanging ideas on the rest
of the analysis. Interactions with the UK Met Office (specifically with the Atmospheric Composition
and Climate Group) and the University of Reading are also expected, due to our collaboration with
these teams on such topics through ongoing projects.
Applicant profile: Applicants should have a degree in Physics, Maths, Chemistry, Engineering, Earth
Sciences, Environmental Sciences, or related field, with at least a 2.1 Honours degree or equivalent.
Project start date: October 2016
(For information: [email protected])
2015 intake