Predicting the Response of Urban Air Pollution to Changes in Weather and Climate and Evaluating the Impacts on Human Health in Santiago, Chile

EPA Grant Number: U916159
Title: Predicting the Response of Urban Air Pollution to Changes in Weather and Climate and Evaluating the Impacts on Human Health in Santiago, Chile
Investigators: Grass, David S.
Institution: Columbia University in the City of New York
EPA Project Officer: Zambrana, Jose
Project Period: January 1, 2003 through January 1, 2006
Project Amount: $145,344
RFA: STAR Graduate Fellowships (2003) Recipients Lists
Research Category: Fellowship - Public Health Sciences , Academic Fellowships , Health Effects


The objectives of this research project are to: (1) refine our understanding of the basic atmospheric processes that influence the transport and deposition of atmospheric pollutants; (2) evaluate the relative and absolute importance of weather and pollution to human mortality rates; and (3) examine the role of climate variability and climate change in modifying the relationships between pollution, weather, and health. One of the greatest challenges in modern epidemiology has been quantifying the impact on human health of prolonged exposure to air pollution. Meanwhile, growing concern over the health consequences of climate change has led to numerous studies of weather and health. Most of these studies, however, only speculate as to the combined impacts of both weather and air pollution. These impacts often are claimed to be "synergistic" or "interactive," but few epidemiological studies have measured whether the combined effects are antagonistic, additive, or nonlinear.


This project will assess the impacts of weather, climate variability, and climate change on air pollution and human mortality in the Central Valley of Chile in three phases. The first phase will identify regional weather patterns associated with poor air quality and elevated cardiopulmonary, respiratory, and all-cause mortality using a synoptic climatological approach. The second phase establishes the relationship between climate variability and air pollution, mortality, and disease levels. How does the global sea surface temperature anomaly, and patterns of climate variability, notably the El Niño Southern Oscillation and the Pacific Decadal Oscillation, affect atmospheric temperature profile, instability, and the frequency of circulation patterns identified as "high risk" in the first phase? The final phase evaluates the response of air pollution levels to global climate change using the outputs from multiple global circulation models (GCMs). Outputs from the Goddard Institute of Space Studies, General Fluid Dynamics Laboratory, United Kingdom Meteorological Office, and Max Planck Institute-Hamburg GCMs will be used to test for consistency and to provide a range of probable values under different emissions scenarios. GCM outputs will provide boundary conditions for a regional climate model to examine the occurrence of "high-risk" weather patterns and to drive an integrated meso-scale air quality model such as the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Models-3/Community Multiscale Air Quality Model.

Supplemental Keywords:

fellowship, urban air pollution, atmospheric pollutants, pollution, climate variability, climate change, Chile, weather, human health., RFA, Air, climate change, Air Pollution Effects, Atmosphere

Relevant Websites:

2004 STAR Graduate Fellowship Conference Poster (PDF, 1p., 523KB, about PDF)

Progress and Final Reports:

  • 2003
  • 2004
  • Final