Tami C. Bond
Scientists expect the earth’s climate to evolve as the result of greenhouse gas effects (warming), aerosol effects (mostly cooling), and gaseous pollutants with short lifetimes (mostly warming). The balance of these effects is estimated using global models of the atmosphere, which require inputs in the form of emission inventories, or tabulations of emitted pollutants.
In its simplest form, an emission inventory can be thought of as a sum of activity (e.g., fuel burned or miles driven) multiplied by emission intensity for each activity (e.g., grams of pollutant released per kilogram of fuel burned). The best information about human activity and emissions comes from urban or regional tabulations; global inventories, in contrast, are often created using crude assumptions. Both urban-scale and global-scale researchers agree that joint efforts are desirable, and Professor Bond is leading a research effort to synthesize urban and regional data into global emission inventories.
Her group plans to develop two new computational tools to help automate the synthesis process. The first will extract data from existing spreadsheets, databases, or documents with a minimum of specialized intervention. The second will help identify how the extracted data should be incorporated into the global emission inventory. Initially, the project will work with a vehicle dataset from Thailand and an industrial-boiler dataset from China. These data were submitted in a variety of formats and will serve as test cases for the new automated interface.
Overall, Professor Bond expects that automating the interface between urban/regional datasets and global inventories will (a) improve global simulations of current aerosol and carbon monoxide emissions; (b) improve projections of future emissions; and (c) provide a way to demonstrate the climatic impact of decisions about air quality in urban areas. She plans to present her group’s results at the Better Air Quality conference in Bangkok, in November 2008.