Research

Full list of publications available here.

Research Areas

Aerosols' role in climate change and societal impacts

The geographic distribution of human emissions of aerosols and their precursors has evolved substantially since the start of the industrial era, as the rise of air quality regulations and global trade have relocated industrial activities. This relocation of emissions has produced new geographic patterns of aerosols' climate and air quality effects and their associated impacts on human health, agricultural and economic productivity, and other societal outcomes. This core of our research investigates the impact of aerosols on both the physical climate system and on society, as well as implications for climate mitigation and air quality policy in collaboration with colleagues at a range of institutions.

Selected relevant links and publications

Persad, G. G. & Caldeira, K. Divergent global-scale temperature effects from identical aerosols emitted in different regions. Nature Communications 9, 1–9 (2018)

NSF CNH-L Project (UT Sub-award PI: Persad): The Coupled Climate and Institutional Dynamics of Short-Lived Local Pollutants and Long-Lived Global Greenhouse Gases

Zheng, Y., Davis, S. J., Persad, G. G. & Caldeira, K. Climate effects of aerosols reduce economic inequality. Nature Climate Change 10, 220–224 (2020).

The influence of forcing location on the pattern of climate change

Certain climate pollutants like aerosols force the climate system unevenly, but it's unclear how much this influences the spatial pattern of resulting climate change. Natural forcings can also be uneven--such as regionally confined ocean warming or fixed natural aerosol sources (volcanoes or deserts)--in ways that can influence the spatial patterns of climate change. Understanding the influence of where these uneven forcings occur on their climate impacts aids in creating a geographically-resolved understanding of both modern and paleo climate changes. This dimension of our research explores the importance of the location of heterogeneous forcing from a range of perspectives with the goal of building fundamental theory.

Selected relevant links and publications

Persad, G. G., Ming, Y., Shen, Z. & Ramaswamy, V. Spatially similar surface energy flux perturbations due to greenhouse gases and aerosols. Nature Communications 9, 3247 (2018).

Praetorius, S., Rugenstein, M., Persad, G. & Caldeira, K. Global and Arctic climate sensitivity enhanced by changes in North Pacific heat flux. Nature Communications 9, 3124 (2018).

Building understanding of short-lived climate pollutants

Light-absorbing species of aerosol pollution, such as black carbon and some components of dust, are considered to be Short-Lived Climate Pollutants and have diverse and complex impacts on climate. They contribute to global-mean warming of the climate system, but can also intensely modify regional circulation and precipitation patterns due to their impacts on the vertical structure of the atmosphere. Because these types of light-absorbing aerosols not only exacerbate global warming, but also negatively impact human health, their mitigation has become a major target of win-win environmental policy. This branch of our research has developed new theory on the role of light-absorbing aerosols in global and regional climate change and advanced understanding of their relevance in policy contexts.

Selected relevant links and publications

Got Science? Podcast Interview - Super Pollutants: Carbon Dioxide's Evil Cousins

Persad, Geeta G., Yi Ming, and V. Ramaswamy. “Tropical Tropospheric-Only Responses to Absorbing Aerosols.” Journal of Climate 25, no. 7 (April 2012): 2471–80. 

Persad, Geeta G., Yi Ming, and V. Ramaswamy. “The Role of Aerosol Absorption in Driving Clear-Sky Solar Dimming over East Asia.” JGR: Atmospheres, September 1, 2014, 10,410– 10,424.

Persad, Geeta G., David J. Paynter, Yi Ming, and V. Ramaswamy. “Competing Atmospheric and Surface-Driven Impacts of Absorbing Aerosols on the East Asian Summertime Climate.” Journal of Climate, August 17, 2017.

Applications of climate modeling to improve societal decision-making

Our group's work utilizes climate models, which are tremendously powerful tools for understanding and predicting climate change. As demand for climate data and information in planning contexts has grown, it has become increasingly important for the climate science community to engage with and improve uses of climate model data in decision-making contexts. This offshoot of our research interrogates climate model data from the perspective of key societal decisions, with a focus on climate data use in water management. The goal is both to explore the new scientific understanding of climate processes that can come from asking questions from a different perspective and to improve the utility of climate projection data in decision-making contexts.

Selected relevant links and publications

Warm Regards Podcast Interview - The Past and Future of Climate Models

Persad, Geeta G., Daniel L. Swain, Claire Kouba, and J. Pablo Ortiz-Partida. Inter-Model Agreement on Projected Shifts in California Hydroclimate Characteristics Critical to Water Management.” Climatic Change, October 3, 2020. 

Persad, Geeta G., J. Pablo Ortiz-Partida, and Daniel L. Swain. Troubled Waters: Preparing for Climate Threats to California's Water System. Union of Concerned Scientists, 2020.

Maven's Notebook feature - Climate Change and the Future of California's Water

Persad Aero-Climate Group
@ UT Austin