In a paper by Amanda Giang and Noelle Selin, published December 28 in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, we estimated benefits from domestic and global-scale mercury policies to the United States. We found that global action on reducing mercury emissions will lead to twice the economic benefits for the U.S., compared with domestic action, by 2050. However, those in the U.S. who consume locally caught freshwater fish, rather than seafood from the global market, will benefit more from domestic rather than international mercury regulations. For more information, see the MIT News article or PNAS paper.
AAAS recently announced the first fellows of the Leshner Leadership Institute for Public Engagement with Science. All are climate scientists with an interest in promoting dialogue between science and society. Noelle is among the first cohort of fellows selected. The cohort selections were announced during the American Geophysical Union meeting in December 2015.
A summary of our recent ES&T paper (led by graduate student Amanda Giang) on the impact of Minamata Convention provisions on mercury emissions and deposition in India and China was recently featured on the European Commission's weekly Science for Environment Policy news alert. For their summary of our paper, click here for the pdf or here to see their archives.
Our paper (Shaojie Song et al., "Top-down constraints on atmospheric mercury emissions and implications for global biogeochemical cycling") was published in Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics. We perform edglobal-scale inverse modeling to constrain present-day atmospheric mercury emissions and relevant physiochemical parameters in the GEOS-Chem chemical transport model. We used Bayesian inversion methods combining simulations with GEOS-Chem and ground-based Hg0 observations from regional monitoring networks and individual sites in recent years. Based on our inversion results, we re-evaluated the long-term global biogeochemical cycle of mercury, and showed that legacy mercury becomes more likely to reside in the terrestrial ecosystem than in the ocean. We estimated that primary anthropogenic mercury contributes up to 23 % of present-day atmospheric deposition.
Danya Rumore successfully defended her dissertation, entitled "Role-play simulations: a tool for transformative civic education and engagement around science intensive environmental issues?" Danny's primary advisor was Larry Susskind (MIT) and Noelle Selin was a committee member. Danya will be heading to the University of Utah's Environmental Dispute Resolution Program in the fall. Congratulations, Danya!
Our recent paper, "U.S. air quality and health benefits from avoided climate change under greenhouse gas mitigation," by Fernando Garcia-Menendez et al., was featured in EPA's new report on the benefits to the U.S. of global climate actions. We projected that climate policy would avoid 57,000 deaths from poor air quality by 2100.
Congratulations to SelinGroup June 2015 PhD graduates Rebecca Saari (left) and Leah Stokes (right). Rebecca is headed to the University of Waterloo in the fall, and Leah is headed to University of California at Santa Barbara; both will be assistant professors. Congrats, Rebecca and Leah!
Engineering Systems Division PhD student Ellen Czaika successfully defended her dissertation, entitled "Model Use in Sustainability Negotiations and Decisions." Dr. Czaika's dissertation research used experimental simulations to test how using models helped decision-makers and negotiators in sustainability decision-making. Congratulations, Ellen!
PhD student Mingwei Li successfully passed her general exam in Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences. Her general exam paper assessed the impact of climate policy on inorganic particulate matter formation in China, and trans-Pacific pollutant transport. Congratulations, Mingwei!
We celebrated the graduations and new jobs of several group members by taking a kayaking trip across the Charles River! Thanks to group administrator and kayaking guide extraordinaire Keeley Rafter for leading the paddlers. Check out the video and pictures below!
Selin Group PhD student Rebecca Saari successfully defended her dissertation, entitled "Air Quality Impacts and Benefits under U.S. Policy for Air Pollution, Climate Change, and Clean Energy." Congratulations, Dr. Saari!
Eight group members attended the 7th International GEOS-Chem meeting, held at Harvard University from May 4-7, 2015, and presented their research using the model. Those attending included Prof. Selin, postdocs Evan Couzo and Carey Friedman, graduate students Colin Thackray, Mingwei Li, Jareth Holt, and Amanda Giang, and undergraduate Nick Hoffman. For more information on group presentations, see the presentations page.
In research led by graduate student Amanda Giang, we evaluated different methods of reducing mercury emissions from coal-fired power plants, and how emissions travel through the atmosphere and enter ecosystems. Through analysis of existing studies, policies, and interviews with Convention negotiators, we identified technologies that India and China would likely adopt if given flexibility. We also studied the effect of stronger technology requirements and an energy system shift away from coal toward low-carbon energy sources. A key finding was that pollution control technologies have big benefits, and an energy-systems approach has even bigger benefits. The benefits from reduced emissions will be felt most strongly in the countries making the reductions, in addition to benefits at the global level. For further information, see [full paper] [fact sheet] [3 questions with Amanda Giang].
We examined the impact of large US emissions changes, similar to those estimated to have occurred between 2005 and 2012, on inorganic PM2.5 sensitivities to further NOx, SO2, and NH3 emissions reductions using GEOS-Chem. Sensitivities to SO2 emissions are larger year-round and across the US in our 2012 compared with the 2005 case, due to more aqueous-phase SO2 oxidation. Sensitivities to winter NOx emissions are larger, more than 2× those of the high emissions case in parts of the northern Midwest. Sensitivities to NH3 emissions are smaller (∼40%) in the 2005 case, year-round, and across the US. Differences in NOx and NH3 sensitivities indicate an altered atmospheric acidity. Larger sensitivities to SO2 and NOx in the low emissions case imply that reducing these emissions may improve air quality more now than they would have in 2005; conversely, NH3 reductions may not improve air quality as much as previously assumed. Our paper on the topic (Holt, Selin and Solomon, 2015) was recently published in Environmental Science and Technology. To read the article, see the journal site.
Rebecca Saari and coauthors recently published an analysis of air quality co-benefits from U.S. climate policies in Journal of the Air and Waste Management Association.
For a copy of the paper, see here