Publications

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2012
Shindell, D, Kuylenstierna JCI, Vignati E, Van Dingenen R, Amann M, Klimont Z, Anenberg SC, Muller N, Janssens-Maenhout G, Raes F, Schwartz J, Faluvegi G, Pozzoli L, Kupiainen K, Hoglund-Isaksson L, Emberson L, Streets D, Ramanathan V, Hicks K, Oanh NTK, Milly G, Williams M, Demkine V, Fowler D.  2012.  Simultaneously mitigating near-term climate change and improving human health and food security. Science. 335:183-189.   10.1126/science.1210026   AbstractWebsite

Tropospheric ozone and black carbon (BC) contribute to both degraded air quality and global warming. We considered similar to 400 emission control measures to reduce these pollutants by using current technology and experience. We identified 14 measures targeting methane and BC emissions that reduce projected global mean warming similar to 0.5 degrees C by 2050. This strategy avoids 0.7 to 4.7 million annual premature deaths from outdoor air pollution and increases annual crop yields by 30 to 135 million metric tons due to ozone reductions in 2030 and beyond. Benefits of methane emissions reductions are valued at $700 to $5000 per metric ton, which is well above typical marginal abatement costs ( less than $250). The selected controls target different sources and influence climate on shorter time scales than those of carbon dioxide-reduction measures. Implementing both substantially reduces the risks of crossing the 2 degrees C threshold.

2011
Rehman, IH, Ahmed T, Praveen PS, Kar A, Ramanathan V.  2011.  Black carbon emissions from biomass and fossil fuels in rural India. Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics. 11:7289-7299.   10.5194/acp-11-7289-2011   AbstractWebsite

Black carbon (BC) emission from biofuel cooking in South Asia and its radiative forcing is a significant source of uncertainty for health and climate impact studies. Quantification of BC emissions in the published literature is either based on laboratory or remote field observations far away from the source. For the first time under Project Surya, we use field measurements taken simultaneously inside rural households, ambient air and vehicular emissions from highways in a rural area in the Indo-Gangetic-Plains region of India to establish the role of both solid biomass based cooking in traditional stoves and diesel vehicles in contributing to high BC and organic carbon (OC), and solar absorption. The major finding of this study is that BC concentrations during cooking hours, both indoors and outdoors, have anomalously large twice-daily peak concentrations reaching 60 mu g m(-3) (median 15-min average value) for indoor and 30 mu g m(-3) (median 15-min average value) for outdoor during the early morning (05:00 to 08:00) and early evening (17:00 to 19:00) hours coinciding with the morning and evening cooking hours. The BC during the non-cooking hours were also large, in the range of 2 to 30 mu g m(-3). The peak indoor BC concentrations reached as high as 1000 mu g m(-3). The large diurnal peaks seen in this study lead to the conclusion that satellite based aerosol studies that rely on once-daily daytime measurements may severely underestimate the BC loading of the atmosphere. The concentration of OC was a factor of 5 larger than BC and furthermore optical data show that absorbing brown carbon was a major component of the OC. The imprint of the cooking hour peaks were seen in the outdoor BC both in the village as well as in the highway. The results have significant implications for climate and epidemiological studies.

2010
Ramanathan, V, Xu YY.  2010.  The Copenhagen Accord for limiting global warming: Criteria, constraints, and available avenues. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 107:8055-8062.   10.1073/pnas.1002293107   AbstractWebsite

At last, all the major emitters of greenhouse gases (GHGs) have agreed under the Copenhagen Accord that global average temperature increase should be kept below 2 degrees C. This study develops the criteria for limiting the warming below 2 degrees C, identifies the constraints imposed on policy makers, and explores available mitigation avenues. One important criterion is that the radiant energy added by human activities should not exceed 2.5 (range: 1.7-4) watts per square meter (Wm(-2)) of the Earth's surface. The blanket of man-made GHGs has already added 3 (range: 2.6-3.5) Wm(-2). Even if GHG emissions peak in 2015, the radiant energy barrier will be exceeded by 100%, requiring simultaneous pursuit of three avenues: (i) reduce the rate of thickening of the blanket by stabilizing CO(2) concentration below 441 ppm during this century (a massive decarbonization of the energy sector is necessary to accomplish this Herculean task), (ii) ensure that air pollution laws that reduce the masking effect of cooling aerosols be made radiant energy-neutral by reductions in black carbon and ozone, and (iii) thin the blanket by reducing emissions of short-lived GHGs. Methane and hydrofluorocarbons emerge as the prime targets. These actions, even if we are restricted to available technologies for avenues ii and iii, can reduce the probability of exceeding the 2 degrees C barrier before 2050 to less than 10%, and before 2100 to less than 50%. With such actions, the four decades we have until 2050 should be exploited to develop and scale-up revolutionary technologies to restrict the warming to less than 1.5 degrees C.

2009
Ramanathan, V, Feng Y.  2009.  Air pollution, greenhouse gases and climate change: Global and regional perspectives. Atmospheric Environment. 43:37-50.   10.1016/j.atmosenv.2008.09.063   AbstractWebsite

Greenhouse gases (GHGs) warm the Surface and the atmosphere with significant implications for rainfall, retreat of glaciers and sea ice, sea level, among other factors. About 30 years ago, it was recognized that the increase in tropospheric ozone from air pollution (NO(x), CO and others) is an important greenhouse forcing term. In addition, the recognition of chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) on stratospheric ozone and its climate effects linked chemistry and climate strongly. What is less recognized, however, is a comparably major global problem dealing with air pollution. Until about ten years ago, air pollution was thought to be just an urban or a local problem. But new data have revealed that air pollution is transported across continents and ocean basins due to fast long-range transport, resulting in trans-oceanic and trans-continental plumes of atmospheric brown Clouds (ABCs) containing sub micron size particles, i.e., aerosols. ABCs intercept Sunlight by absorbing as well as reflecting it, both of which lead to a large surface dimming. The dimming effect is enhanced further because aerosols may nucleate more cloud droplets, which makes the clouds reflect More solar radiation. The dimming has a Surface cooling effect and decreases evaporation of moisture from the surface, thus slows down the hydrological cycle. On the other hand, absorption of solar radiation by black carbon and some organics increase atmospheric hearing and tend to amplify greenhouse warming of the atmosphere. ABCs are concentrated in regional and mega-city hot spots. Long-range transport from these hot spots causes widespread plumes over the adjacent oceans. Such a pattern Of regionally concentrated Surface dimming and atmospheric Solar heating, accompanied by widespread dimming over the oceans, gives rise to large regional effects. Only during the last decade, we have begun to comprehend the surprisingly large regional impacts. In S. Asia and N. Africa, the large north-south gradient in the ABC dimming has altered both the north-south gradients in sea Surface temperatures and land-ocean contrast in surface temperatures, which in turn slow down the monsoon circulation and decrease rainfall over the continents. On the other hand, heating by black carbon warms the atmosphere at elevated levels from 2 to 6 kin, where most tropical glaciers are located, thus strengthening the effect of GHGs on retreat of snow packs and glaciers in the Hindu Kush-Himalaya-Tibetan glaciers. Globally, the surface cooling effect of ABCs may have masked as Much 47% of the global warming by greenhouse gases, with an uncertainty range of 20-80%. This presents a dilemma since efforts to curb air pollution may unmask the ABC cooling effect and enhance the surface warming. Thus efforts to reduce GHGs and air pollution should be done under one common framework. The uncertainties in our understanding of the ABC effects are large, but we are discovering new ways in which human activities are changing the climate and the environment. (C) 2008 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

2007
Ramanathan, V, Li F, Ramana MV, Praveen PS, Kim D, Corrigan CE, Nguyen H, Stone EA, Schauer JJ, Carmichael GR, Adhikary B, Yoon SC.  2007.  Atmospheric brown clouds: Hemispherical and regional variations in long-range transport, absorption, and radiative forcing. Journal of Geophysical Research-Atmospheres. 112   10.1029/2006jd008124   AbstractWebsite

The study uses satellite observations, global assimilated aerosol data sets, Atmospheric Brown Clouds (ABC) observatories, a Monte Carlo aerosol-cloud-radiation model and a regional chemical transport model (STEM-2K) to characterize the spatial extent of brown clouds, regional and megacity ABC hot spots, chemical composition and the direct radiative forcing. It presents the first annual cycle of aerosol observations and forcing from the ABC observatories in the Indo-Asia-Pacific regions. East Asia, Indo-Gangetic Plains, Indonesian region, southern Africa and the Amazon basin are the regional hot spots defined by the criteria that anthropogenic aerosol optical depths (AODs) should exceed 0.3 and absorbing AOD > 0.03. Over these hot spots, as well as in other polluted oceanic regions, the EC mass exceeds 0.5 mu g m(-3), the OC mass exceeds 2 mg m(-)3 and sulfate mass exceeds 10 mg m -3 from the surface to 3 km. The brown clouds also have strong seasonal dependence. In the tropics the seasonal dependence is driven by pollution accumulating during the dry seasons, December to February in Northern Hemisphere tropics and June to August in Southern Hemisphere tropics. In the extratropics the pollution peaks during the summer. The brown cloud problem is not restricted to the tropical regions. Over the eastern half of US and western Europe the AODs exceeds 0.2 and absorption AODs exceed 0.02. Brown clouds also extend well into the western Pacific Ocean, the Indian Ocean reaching as far south as 60 degrees S and the eastern Atlantic Ocean. The largest total SO(2) emission occurs over China and US, while SO(2) emission per unit surface area is maximum over Germany and England. The largest total EC and OC emissions occur over China, but the largest OC emission per unit surface area occur over India. As a result, the maximum negative annual mean TOA direct forcing is over India and Germany. The surface annual-diurnal mean dimming over the regional hot spots is of the order of -10 W m(-2) and -20 W m(-2) over megacity hotpots.

Adhikary, B, Carmichael GR, Tang Y, Leung LR, Qian Y, Schauer JJ, Stone EA, Ramanathan V, Ramana MV.  2007.  Characterization of the seasonal cycle of south Asian aerosols: A regional-scale modeling analysis. Journal of Geophysical Research-Atmospheres. 112   10.1029/2006jd008143   AbstractWebsite

The sulfur transport and deposition model ( STEM) is used to study the aerosol seasonality, distribution, and composition over south Asia from September 2004 to August 2005. Model predictions of sulfate, black carbon, primary organic carbon, other anthropogenic particulate matter, windblown mineral dusts, and sea salt are compared at two sites in south Asia where yearlong experimental observations are available from the Atmospheric Brown Cloud ( ABC) project. The model predictions are able to capture both the magnitude and seasonality of aerosols over Hanimaadhoo Observatory, Maldives. However, the model is not able to explain the seasonality at the Kathmandu Observatory; but the model does capture Kathmandu's observed annual mean concentration. The absence of seasonal brick kiln emissions within Kathmandu valley in the current inventory is a probable reason for this problem. This model study reveals high-anthropogenic aerosol loading over the Ganges valley even in the monsoonal months, which needs to be corroborated by experimental observations. Modeling results also show a high dust loading over south Asia with a distinct seasonality. Model results of aerosol monthly composition are also presented at five cities in south Asia. Total and fine-mode monthly aerosol optical depth along with contribution from each aerosol species is presented; the results show that the anthropogenic fraction dominates in the postmonsoon and the early dry season with major contributions from sulfate and absorbing aerosols. Model sensitivity studies of dry deposition velocity and wet scavenging efficiency show that model improvements are needed in the treatment of carbonaceous aerosol dry and wet removal processes. Modeled SO2 conversion rate constrained with sulfate observations at Hanimaadhoo suggests the need to increase model sulfate production rate during the dry season to account for probable sulfate production via heterogeneous pathways.