Climate changes and air quality

The relationship between climate change and air quality is an important research field. This knowledge helps to ensure that measures taken to reduce greenhouse gas emissions also reduce local air pollution - and vice versa.

NILU participates in research related to our fundamental understanding of climate change and its links to air pollution, the effects of climate change on nature and society and the prevention of and adaptation to climate change. This research particularly focuses on the relationship between climate change and local or regional air pollution, known as co-benefits, or additional benefits, and the effects of climate change on materials and built structures, including Norway’s cultural monuments.

Co-Benefits - Additional Benefits

Examples of “co-benefits” that result from efforts to prevent climate change and reduce air pollution are when the cleanup or reduction of CO2 emissions also reduces emissions of other air pollutants. For example, CO2 capture also removes other pollutants from exhaust gases, or the electrification of transport can reduce emissions of other gases, such as NO2, to zero.

On the other hand, the release or cleanup of air pollutants can actually have climate effects. This can occur with the release of aerosols and SO2, which provides a so-called “dimming effect”, or reduced incoming radiation, which in turn reduces the observed greenhouse effect. Another example is when soot particles that are deposited in polar regions have “positive retroactive power” and increase the snow’s ability to absorb heat, thus hastening snowmelt and increasing the surface area of snow-free areas. This in turn further increases heat absorption.
 

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