Climate change affects all life on Earth, but no single answer or approach addresses every pressing concern. Questions and confusion about the topic swirl around government offices, community centers, boardrooms, and editorial desks as conflicting interests complete for attention.

How do we untangle the issues and shed the inaccuracies surrounding this hot topic?

During the past 25 years, the pace of research on climate change has quickened because of concern that human activity—not just climate change—could cause alterations of atmospheric temperatures leading to irreversible global damage.

To address this issue, atmospheric engineers Brian Lamb and George Mount created state-of-the-art instruments to measure climate change in hopes of reversing current global trends. From ground explorations to determine how much CO2 is sequestered by forests, to measuring the greenhouse gases emitted from crops and animal operations, to satellite views of atmospheric change, the scientists can reliably model climate change and its effects on future air pollution levels. The satellite work, funded by NASA, allows them to pinpoint the sources of pollutants, following them as they move through the atmosphere.

Professors Lamb and Mount oversee a regional air-quality model called AIRPACT, tracking and predicting urban air pollution in the Pacific Northwest. They also use computer modeling to study how global warming will affect air quality in the region and throughout the country.

What will have the greatest impact on air quality during the next 45 years—increased greenhouse gas emissions or climate change? Efforts to monitor and improve air quality forecasting will have a significant impact on our understanding of the changes occurring in regional air quality in the near-term future.


Featuring: George Mount, Ph.D.

George Mount is director of the WSU Center for Environmental Research, Education, and Outreach, and a professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering. A member of the faculty since 1997, Dr. Mount is developing a NASA satellite (to launch January 2008) to measure carbon dioxide from space, and helped develop a NASA instrument to study air pollution from space. His research is funded primarily by NASA and the National Science Foundation. Dr. Mount received a doctorate in physics from the University of Colorado.

Featuring: Brian Lamb, Ph.D.

A WSU faculty member for more than 25 years, Brian Lamb is an international leader in the area of regional air-quality research. He and his collaborators led the development of the Biogenic Emission Inventory System, which the Environmental Protection Agency adopted as a tool to address ozone problems. Dr. Lamb’s work, particularly on biogenic trace gas emissions, is often cited. He was named the Boeing Distinguished Professor, Laboratory for Atmospheric Research in 1995, and in 2005 he was named a WSU Regents Professor. Dr. Lamb received his doctorate from the California Institute of Technology.