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Air Pollution Interactions with Weather and Climate Extremes: Current Knowledge, Gaps, and Future Directions

smokestack emitting smoke

A new scientific review written by CPO-funded scientists explores the complex relationship between air pollution and weather/climate extremes such as extreme precipitation, floods, droughts, wildfires, and heat waves. Researchers Cenlin He and Wenfu Tang of the National Center for Atmospheric Research received support from CPO’s Atmospheric Chemistry, Carbon Cycle and Climate (AC4) Program, Modeling, Analysis, Predictions, and Projections (MAPP) Program and National Integrated Drought Information System (NIDIS) to study impacts of fire and smoke at the wildland-urban interface as well as drivers of drought in the U.S. This review, published in Current Pollution Reports, provides this concise synthesis of recent scientific advances, current knowledge gaps, and future directions on air pollution interactions with extremes.

While the impact of these extremes on society, health, and ecosystems is well recognized, the role of air pollution in exacerbating or interacting with them is less understood. This paper highlights existing evidence suggesting that air pollutants, including aerosols and trace gases, can influence weather and climate systems through intricate interactions with meteorology and ecosystems. However, there are significant gaps in our understanding, and more research is needed to unravel the mechanisms behind these interactions and their implications for future climate extremes. By synthesizing recent scientific advances and identifying knowledge gaps, the review calls for interdisciplinary collaborations and enhanced observational and modeling capabilities to better understand and mitigate the impacts of air pollution on weather and climate extremes.

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For more information, contact Clara Deck.

Image credit: Pixabay

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