Carmichael Is Co-author of UN Report on Asian Pollution

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Greg Carmichael, Karl Kammermeyer Professor of Chemical and Biochemical Engineering, associate dean for graduate programs and research, and co-director of the Center for Global and Regional Environmental Research, is co-author of a United Nations report issued November 13 that warns a noxious cocktail of soot, smog and toxic chemicals is blotting out the sun, fouling the lungs of millions of people and altering weather patterns in large parts of Asia.

A three-kilometre-thick “brown cloud” of man-made pollution, which stretches from the Arabian Peninsula to China to the western Pacific Ocean, is making Asian cities darker, speeding up the melting of Himalayan glaciers and impacting human health, according to the United Nations Environment Programme report.

Atmospheric Brown Clouds (ABCs), resulting from the burning of fossil fuels and biomass, has resulted in the formation of particles such as black carbon and soot which absorb sunlight and heat the air, experts write in the study released today in Beijing.

The clouds also “mask” the actual warming impact of climate change by anywhere between 20 and 80 per cent because they include sulfates and other chemicals which reflect sunlight and cool the surface.

Carmichael and his research team are recognized internationally for studying the phenomenon, including the long-range transport of sulfur in Asia.

The UN report received extensive coverage throughout the U.S., including the New York Times.