Climate, Air Quality and Health: Linking Transportation Emissions to Impacts at Local to Regional Scales

Focus Area

Climate Change


Air Quality, Environmental Process






2-3 years

Research Idea Scope

Climate change may affect human health via
interactions with air pollutants such as ozone and PM2.5. These air pollutants
are linked to climate because they can be both affected by and have effects on
climate. In coming decades, substantial, cost-effective improvements in public
health may be achieved with well-planned strategies to mitigate climate impacts
while also reducing health effects of ozone and PM2.5. To better understand the
potential of such strategies, studies are needed that assess possible future
health impacts under alternative assumptions about future emissions and climate
across multiple spatial scales.


The overall objective of the proposed study
is to apply state of the art climate, air quality, and health modelling tools
to assess future health impacts of ozone and PM2.5 under different scenario of
climate mitigation, focusing specifically on pollution-related health
co-benefits which could be achieved under alternative climate mitigation
pathways in the period 2030-2050.  This
question will be explored at two spatial scales: regional (N. America and Europe),
and urban (NYC, London, Paris, others). 


Key tasks:

Develop projections of air pollution
concentrations at a 50×50 km scale over N. America and Europe, and at a 4×4 km
scale within selected cities using new multi-scale air quality projections that
will be driven by the IPCC representative concentration pathways as well as
planned air quality controls directed at motor vehicle emissions.
Deterministic, statistical and semi-empirical methods will be developed to
downscale  large scale air-quality model
outpus to regional (countries and regions) and urban scale grids.  Apply state of the art health impact
assessment tools to compute mortality and morbidity changes associated with
modeled changes in air quality

Urgency and Payoff

The project is designed to create an
interdisciplinary approach to the impacts of climate change on health through
air quality changes, and to start longer-term collaborations between
communities.  A key innovation of the
project is the multi-scale aspect, i.e., the analysis of climate, air quality
and health at the global, regional and urban scales using consistent
methodologies.  Comparison of health
findings across scales will provide unique insights into the importance of
geographic scale in assessing health impacts of alternative climate and air
quality scenarios.

Suggested By

Patrick L Kinney, Columbia University, Mailman School of Public Health 212-305-3663

[email protected]