Carmichael Participates in Nepal Environmental Workshop

Friday, June 14, 2013

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, joined atmospheric researchers from around the globe in Kathmandu, Nepal, to discuss the connections between air pollution and the Asian summer monsoon during a four-day workshop from June 9-12.

Changes in the Asian summer monsoon have implications on the weather, people’s health, agriculture, and glaciers of the entire Hindu Kush Himalayan region. However, there is a need to improve understanding of the underlying sources and processes driving these changes, according to ICIMOD.

With more than 100 participants, the workshop on the Atmospheric Composition of the Asian Monsoon was the largest ever gathering of atmospheric scientists in Nepal to share knowledge and develop collaborative efforts to improve understanding on this important issue. It was jointly hosted by the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) through its Atmosphere Initiative together with the US National Science Foundation; the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR); the International Geosphere Biosphere Programme’s Integrated Land, Ecosystem, Atmosphere Processes Study (iLEAPS); the International Global Atmospheric Chemistry Project (IGAC); and the World Climate Research Program’s core project on Stratosphere Processes and their Role in Climate (SPARC).

At the workshop, researchers discussed ongoing research about emissionsand air quality, about aerosols and clouds, convection and chemistry, and about the upper atmosphere. They discussed how aerosol pollutants affect monsoon clouds and rainfall, and how convective clouds in the monsoon transport pollutants to high altitudes where they have an impact on global climate. Researchers also discussed the complex role that black carbon and dust particles are playing in increased glacier and snow melt at high altitudes in the Himalayas.

During the session on emissions and air quality, several researchers highlighted the effects of seasonal biomass burning in relation to impacts on health as well as the photochemistry of the atmosphere. The trend of open crop residue burning is on the rise in South Asia as the traditional method of tilling paddy stock back into the field is being replaced because of rising labour costs and the limited time available before the next crop of wheat must be sown. Several presenters also highlighted the link between changing land cover – a result of urbanization – and changes in emissions and meteorology, including surface temperature, and changing ozone levels, which have implications for air quality, health, and crop productivity.

“Given Asia’s vulnerability to climate change, things are going to happen. We, as researchers, can use our knowledge to help facilitate better policy and greater regional collaboration,” said Carmichael.