Current Research in EEPS: Dr. Geeta Persad, University of Texas at Austin
The Shifting Climate Influence of Atmospheric Aerosols
Aerosol particles like dust, sea salt, sulfates, and soot are small but mighty players in climate variability and change. Anthropogenic aerosols have been the main cooling offset to greenhouse gases over the industrial era and are emitted by many of the same processes. But the regions responsible for emissions have shifted dramatically, as the rise of clean air regulations and global trade have relocated hotspots of industrial activity. Natural aerosols, meanwhile, play a major role in baseline climate, but the evolution of their sources over geologic time is poorly constrained. In this talk, we will explore the implications of aerosol’s shifting geography for their impacts on regional and global climate. I will present results from global climate model simulations demonstrating that aerosols’ effect on global-scale temperature and precipitation depend strongly on the geographic location of their source. I will introduce new analysis exploring how the century-scale redistribution of aerosol emissions has influenced the trajectory of human-induced climate change. Finally, we will discuss what this means for the potential impact of global shifts in the location of natural and anthropogenic aerosol sources on past and future climate variability and change.