Air pollutants as well as increased air temperatures can have negative impacts on human health and vegetation. A major source of air pollution is the transport sector (see figure), but other anthropogenic and natural emissions also contribute to poor air quality. In the wake of the energy transition in the transport sector and mitigation options in other sectors, reductions in air pollutants can be expected. In a changing climate, however, adverse effects can also be expected to increase, especially through the interaction with higher air temperatures. In addition, the composition and concentration of air pollutants may change due to climate change, e.g., increases in natural emissions, changes in precipitation, or atmospheric circulation patterns. To date, however, there is a lack of sound understanding of how the effects of air pollution and increased air temperature on human health and vegetation change with climate change. This complicates, for example, the evaluation of mitigation measures in the transport sector.
The goal of the Young Investigator’s Group IMPAC²T is to investigate the impact of air pollution on human health and vegetation, considering climate change and the energy transition in transport. This will help to enable mobility under future climate conditions with the least possible impact on human health and the environment. IMPAC²T is funded by the FONA Initiative of the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF).
The Young Investigator’s Group is a collaborative project between the Department of Earth System Modeling for Aeronautics, Space, Transport and Energy of the Institute of Atmospheric Physics, under the leadership of Dr. Mariano Mertens, and the working group Environmental Risks of the Institute of Epidemiology of Helmholtz Munich, headed by Dr. Alexandra Schneider. These interdisciplinary teams combine expertise from chemistry-climate modeling with expertise in epidemiology
In IMPAC²T, consistent projections of climate and air quality are performed using a global & regional chemistry-climate model. Based on these projections, we will seek to improve our understanding of relevant atmospheric processes and their feedbacks on air quality in the context of climate change. In addition, trends in policy-relevant metrics of air pollutants and air temperature as well as ozone-induced crop yield loss will be investigated. West Africa, Europe, and Germany are considered. For Germany, a detailed epidemiological-biostatistical analysis is performed based on exposure data from the model and the NAKO health study, the largest German prospective cohort study. It will be analyzed whether and if so by how much the effects of air pollution on the prevalence and incidence of cardiovascular disease could be amplified in a future climate with concurrent high air temperatures. The results of IMPAC²T will be discussed with authorities. Together, mitigation measures to improve air quality in a changing climate will be defined, scientifically investigated within the project, and their impact quantified.
Contribution of transport emissions to reactive nitrogen (as mixing ratio in nmol/mol) in June 2017. The Young Investigator’s Group will investigate how the contributions of transport to air quality are changing in the wake of climate change and the energy transition in transport, and what effects this has on human health and vegetation. (Graphics: DLR / M. Mertens, CC-BY-ND-NC 3.0)