John Lin named Earth Leadership Program Fellow

GCSC faculty affiliate John Lin, professor of atmospheric sciences, has been named a 2021 fellow of The Earth Leadership Program. The program recognizes mid-career academic researchers who focus on environmental and sustainability issues and provides them with an opportunity to develop as global leaders to bring their expertise to effect positive change. Dr. Lin will join a global network of scientists, researchers, and innovators engaged in transdisciplinary research that will be needed to support rapid transformations towards sustainability.

Lin has been an innovative and collaborative researcher since being recruited to the U of U (with the help of the GCSC) in 2012. His Land-Atmosphere Interactions Research (LAIR) group studies phenomena that impact climate and the environment such as air quality, greenhouse gases, and wildfire emissions.

Lin says his selection as a fellow reflects the quality of research at the U in studying climate change and air pollution. “As importantly,” he says, “the Earth Leadership Program recognizes the potential for work at the U to provide solutions to these issues by working with stakeholders and the public at large.  This is testament to the efforts in the Department of Atmospheric Sciences as well as the many, many wonderful members of the Global Change and Sustainability Center across campus.” (quoted from an article in @theU. Click link to read further.)

 

This leadership training program “provides opportunities for Fellows to learn leadership skills and to practice them in a dynamic setting. The network of trainers, mentors, and peers promotes relationships that are meaningful and may lead to new professional opportunities. The value for each Fellow is in building these connections and in becoming inspired and confident that our research has purpose and impact on the world.” Sharon K. Collinge, Executive Director of the Earth Leadership Program.

 

Mounting air-quality sensors on light rail saves cities money while improving data

Researchers affiliated with the GCSC have been measuring greenhouse gases in the Salt Lake valley by mounting sensors on TRAX light rail trains. Not only does this greatly improve the data that informs city planners and policy makers, but this method can provide extraordinary cost savings. The cost of one research-grade mobile sensor is about $40,000. To collect data from the same area with stationary sensors would take 30 instruments and would cost more than $1.2 million.

U of U researchers have been monitoring carbon dioxide in the Salt Lake Valley for 20 years. According to John Lin, Professor, Atmospheric Sciences, adding the TRAX-based measurements to stationary monitoring sites makes Salt Lake City one of the best-instrumented cities in the world for observing air pollution.

Read the full story in At the U. Find the publication in Environmental Science & Technology.

Students initiate study on air pollution and unhoused people

Who in city government tracks the environmental effects of air pollution on people experiencing homelessness? When students in the 2019 Global Changes and Society class looked into it, they found that there was not an office with that responsibility. Initially, students set out to change that missing piece. But those efforts have now also resulted in a study published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, as part of a special issues “Addressing public health and health inequities in marginalized and hidden populations.”

The project-based course Global Changes and Society (SUST 6000) features guest lecturers with expertise in research related to global changes and sustainability. In this course, students from different disciplines Identify a theme or focus area, begin to learn the language and approaches of other disciplines around the theme, explore perspectives and approaches of different stakeholders, and develop a team project. Recognizing that there are disproportionate environmental impacts on certain socially and geographically vulnerable communities in the Salt Lake Valley, students in the 2019 class developed projects to address some of these issues.

The student group with members including Angelina DeMarco and Rebecca Hardenbrook (GCSC Fellow 2018-19) noted that during poor air quality events such as inversions, wildfires, and heightened ozone periods, residents are urged to stay indoors when possible, but people affected by homelessness don’t have the luxury of escaping indoors on short notice to avoid poor air conditions. But it appeared that no-one had researched the effects of poor air quality on this population.

Read about the research project these students developed with GCSC faculty affiliates Daniel Mendoza (Atmospheric Sciences and City & Metropolitan Planning) and Jeff Rose (Parks, Recreation and Tourism) in At the U.

Mendoza & Lin: How Much Can Transit Improve Air Quality?

It makes sense that riding public transit is better for air quality than single riders each driving a personal vehicle. In a new study, GCSC affiliates Daniel Mendoza and John Lin, along with colleague Martin Buchert, quantify those emissions reductions. The research team analyzed rider data along with transit service schedules and routes to estimate the impact of Utah Transit Authority buses, light rail, and commuter rail on the air quality in its service region by accounting for vehicle miles traveled, gasoline gallons equivalent of fuel consumed, and multiple pollutant species emitted. The researchers predict that certain equipment upgrades could reduce some pollutants by 50% to 70%. Read more here.