How extreme weather exacerbates air pollution

Extreme temperatures can exacerbate air pollution with serious implications for public health
© 2018 Fayez Nureldine/AFP/Getty Images

Air pollution is estimated by the World Health Organization (WHO) Global Ambient Air Quality Database (update 2018) to be responsible for more than 4 million premature deaths each year due to lung cancer, acute respiratory disease and even heart disease and stroke. The threat is quickly becoming a global crisis with over 90 percent of the world’s population living in places where air pollution exposure regularly exceeds limits set by the WHO.

Understanding and predicting the effects of air pollution, however, is complicated by the many varied pollutants, including ozone, particulate matter, nitrogen dioxide and sulfur dioxide, and their cumulative effects and interactions with meteorological conditions, such as temperature and humidity.  

To better understand such effects, Marc Genton, Raphaël Huser and Sabrina Vettori from KAUST have applied their expertise in modeling spatial extremes to assess the dependence between peak exposures of multiple air pollutants and extreme weather conditions across large spatial regions.

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