The impact of climate change, cleaner skies, and stratospheric aerosol geoengineering on extreme humid heat in the sub-tropics

This project is available from the academic year 2024/25 onwards.

Theme: Environmental Hazards & Pollution

Primary Supervisor:

Tom Matthews

Department of Geography, KCL

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Secondary Supervisor:

Peter Irvine

Earth Sciences, UCL

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Project Description:

As the climate warms, the risks posed by extreme humid heat around the world are growing. The threats are particularly severe in subtropical regions, where large populations are exposed to the most extreme humid heat with growing impacts on human health and labour productivity. In much of Asia, a thick aerosol pollution layer has shaded the surface and partly offset the impact of global warming, but as clean air policies are implemented this shading effect will be lost. Stratospheric aerosol geoengineering, a proposal to create a global layer of aerosol particles which would reflect a small fraction of incoming light back to space, offers an alternative means of shading the surface and reducing the impacts of extreme heat.

In this PhD project, you will use observations and state of the art climate models to simulate the impact of climate change, aerosol pollution changes, and stratospheric aerosol geoengineering on extreme humid heat. You will evaluate changes in a range of different temperature and humid heat metrics and tie these to human health and labour productivity outcomes.

Most assessments of the impacts of heat on society fail to account for the full impacts of changes in humidity and in the intensity of incident solar radiation. By considering novel policy options and applying more appropriate measures of extreme humid heat you will be able to offer novel insights into the responses that society can take in response to this threat.

Policy Impact of Research:

Extreme humid heat is a growing threat to lives and livelihoods, particularly in urban areas in the sub-tropics. This project will improve our understanding of this threat and the potential for stratospheric aerosol geoengineering to ameliorate it.

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