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Research explores health impacts of urban living

March 09, 2010

Research at ASU that could help decision-makers 
address urban pollution problems and the impact of climate change on 
urban environments is getting support from the National Science 
Foundation (NSF).

Professor Alex Mahalov has been awarded a $775,000 grant from the NSF
 for his regional climate research, which includes studies of urban 
atmospheres and the health impacts of environmental stresses.

Such stresses – including urban heat islands, heat waves, 
pollution and high levels of ozone – "negatively impact people's health
 in the Valley," Mahalov said. "During periods of high levels of ozone, 
for instance, more people with lung problems are admitted to hospitals."

Mahalov is a professor in the School of Mathematical and Statistical Sciences 
in ASU's College of Liberal Arts and Science, and has a joint 
appointment in the Center for Environmental Fluid Dynamics, 
part of the School of Mechanical, Aerospace, Chemical and Materials
 Engineering in the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering.

His research project titled "Multi-Scale Modeling of Urban Atmospheres in a 
Changing Climate" involves close collaboration with the National Center for 
Atmospheric Research (NCAR) to be directed by Mohamed Moustaoui, an associate research scientist with the School of Mathematical and Statistical Sciences and the Center for Environmental Fluid Dynamics

The ASU-NCAR research team will develop nested models to simulate urban 
atmospheres and their multiscale interactions with ambient climate and 
atmospheric circulation occurring on urban scales. The models will be used to 
explore the effects of large-scale atmospheric conditions on urban-scale 
environment and climate, and the effects of the atmospheric conditions of 
cities on the regions that surround them.

The project also will create research opportunities for ASU science and
 engineering graduate students, who will be able to work with faculty on
 the computational studies of complex urban systems.

In addition, ASU's High Performance Computing Initiative (HPCI) center 
and Intel Corporation will provide advanced training in high-performance 
computing and computational science to ASU students working with 
project teams. The teams also will collaborate with HPCI and Intel on 
adapting the computer simulation tools for use in next generations of massively parallelized multi-core architectures.

The HPCI center provides state-of-the-art computer facilities, software and 
visualization capabilities to help researchers analyze and visualize data from 
high-resolution computer simulations. The software will be used to provide 
three-dimensional visualizations for ASU's Decision Theater.

Writer: Jessica Graham