The Future of Atmospheric Chemistry Research: Remembering Yesterday, Understanding Today, Anticipating Tomorrow

The Future of Atmospheric Chemistry Research: Remembering Yesterday, Understanding Today, Anticipating Tomorrow

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Overview

Our world is changing at an accelerating rate. The global human population has grown from 6.1 billion to 7.1 billion in the last 15 years and is projected to reach 11.2 billion by the end of the century. The distribution of humans across the globe has also shifted, with more than 50 percent of the global population now living in urban areas, compared to 29 percent in 1950. Along with these trends, increasing energy demands, expanding industrial activities, and intensification of agricultural activities worldwide have in turn led to changes in emissions that have altered the composition of the atmosphere.

These changes have led to major challenges for society, including deleterious impacts on climate, human and ecosystem health. Climate change is one of the greatest environmental challenges facing society today. Air pollution is a major threat to human health, as one out of eight deaths globally is caused by air pollution. And, future food production and global food security are vulnerable to both global change and air pollution. Atmospheric chemistry research is a key part of understanding and responding to these challenges.

The Future of Atmospheric Chemistry Research: Remembering Yesterday, Understanding Today, Anticipating Tomorrow summarizes the rationale and need for supporting a comprehensive U.S. research program in atmospheric chemistry; comments on the broad trends in laboratory, field, satellite, and modeling studies of atmospheric chemistry; determines the priority areas of research for advancing the basic science of atmospheric chemistry; and identifies the highest priority needs for improvements in the research infrastructure to address those priority research topics. This report describes the scientific advances over the past decade in six core areas of atmospheric chemistry: emissions, chemical transformation, oxidants, atmospheric dynamics and circulation, aerosol particles and clouds, and biogeochemical cycles and deposition. This material was developed for the NSF's Atmospheric Chemistry Program; however, the findings will be of interest to other agencies and programs that support atmospheric chemistry research.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780309445658
Publisher: National Academies Press
Publication date: 01/29/2017
Pages: 226
Product dimensions: 7.00(w) x 10.00(h) x (d)

Table of Contents

Summary 1

Changing World, Changing Atmosphere 1

Attaining a Predictive Capability 1

This Study 2

Recommended Scientific Priorities for Atmospheric Chemistry Research 4

Supporting Programmatic and Infrastructure Priorities for Advancing Atmospheric Chemistry Research 8

Final Thoughts 15

1 Why this Report? 17

1.1 A Changing World, a Changing Atmosphere 17

1.2 The Science of Atmospheric Chemistry 19

1.3 Attaining a Predictive Capability 20

1.4 Context for This Study 23

2 Remembering Yesterday 27

2.1 Past Successes of Atmospheric Chemistry in a Changing World 27

2.2 Conclusion 38

3 Understanding Today 41

3.1 Human Activities and Natural Processes Govern Emissions That Determine the Chemical Composition of the Atmosphere 42

3.2 Chemical Transformations Affect the Spatial and Temporal Variability of Gases and Particles 48

3.3 Atmospheric Oxidants Control the Lifetimes, Distribution, and Products of Emitted Species 55

3.4 Chemical Processes Interact with Atmospheric Dynamics to Control the Distribution of Trace Gases and Particles 61

3.5 Particle Chemical and Physical Properties Affect Cloud and Aerosol Particle Radiative Properties, Cloud Microphysics, and Precipitation Processes 64

3.6 Atmospheric Trace Gases and Aerosol Particles Couple to Global Biogeochemical Cycles 70

3.7 Conclusion 75

4 Anticipating Tomorrow: Societal Challenges 77

4.1 Atmospheric Gases and Particles Affect Climate and Weather 77

4.2 Atmospheric Chemistry Affects Human Health 84

4.3 Atmospheric Chemistry Interacts with Natural and Managed Ecosystems 89

4.4 Societal Choices and Impacts 93

4.5 Conclusion 103

5 Anticipating Tomorrow: Research Priorities in Atmospheric Chemistry 105

5.1 Developing Priorities 105

5.2 Priority Science Areas 106

6 Recommended Supporting Programmatic and Infrastructure Priorities for Advancing Atmospheric Chemistry Research 121

6.1 Discussion of Trends in Atmospheric Chemistry 122

6.2 Development of Tools for Atmospheric Chemistry Research 125

6.3 Information Collection, Analysis, and Archiving in the Era of "Big Data" 133

6.4 Imperative for Collaborations 140

6.5 Role of a National Center 147

7 Final Thoughts 151

References 153

Appendixes

A Committee Biographies 193

B Community Input Gathering 201

C Analysis of Funding Trends for Atmospheric Chemistry Research 203

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