Key Earth System Science Challenges Related to Climate Change and Air Pollution
Szykman, Jim AND T. Keating. Key Earth System Science Challenges Related to Climate Change and Air Pollution. National Academies Press, Washington, DC, 2018. https://doi.org/10.17226/24938
White paper for the 2017-2027 NRC Decadal Survey in Earth Science and Applications from Space. We live on a dynamic Earth shaped by both natural processes and the impacts of humans on their environment. It is in our collective interest to observe and understand our planet, and to predict future behavior to the extent possible, in order to effectively manage resources, successfully respond to threats from natural and human-induced environmental change, and capitalize on the opportunities – social, economic, security, and more – that such knowledge can bring. By continuously monitoring and exploring Earth, developing a deep understanding of its evolving behavior, and characterizing the processes that shape and reshape the environment in which we live, we not only advance knowledge and basic discovery about our planet, but we further develop the foundation upon which benefits to society are built. Thriving on Our Changing Planet presents prioritized science, applications, and observations, along with related strategic and programmatic guidance, to support the U.S. civil space Earth observation program over the coming decade.
Climate change and air pollution are arguably the most significant environmental problems facing the United States and the world over the next decade. There is an urgent need to dramatically curtail emissions of greenhouse gases, including powerful short-lived forcers such as methane, to help mitigate the severest impacts of climate change. Globally, indoor and outdoor air pollution are now recognized as leading contributors to the global burden of disease, accounting for as many as 7 million deaths annually.1 In the United States, new health research has led to a decision to tighten the National Ambient Air Quality Standard for ozone.2