Capsule Summary

We present perspectives on current challenges and recommendations for future directions to advance predictive ability of interactions between air pollution and terrestrial ecosystems and impacts on human and Earth systems.

Abstract

Interactions between air pollution and terrestrial ecosystems play an important role in the Earth system. However, process-based knowledge of air pollution-terrestrial ecosystem interactions is limited, hindering accurate quantification of how changes in tropospheric chemistry, biogeochemical cycling, and climate affect air quality and its impact on humans and ecosystems. Here we summarize current challenges and future directions for advancing the understanding of air pollution-ecosystem interactions by synthesizing discussions from a multidisciplinary group of scientists at a recent Integrated Land Ecosystem-Atmosphere Processes Study (iLEAPS) early-career workshop. Specifically, we discuss the important elements of air pollution-terrestrial ecosystem interactions, including vegetation and soil uptake and emissions of air pollutants and precursors, in-canopy chemistry, and the roles of human activities, fires, and meteorology. We highlight the need for a coordinated network of measurements of long-term chemical fluxes and related meteorological and ecological quantities with expanded geographic and ecosystem representation, data standardization and curation to reduce uncertainty and enhance observational syntheses, integrated multiscale observational and modeling capabilities, collaboration across scientific disciplines and geographic regions, and active involvement by stakeholders and policymakers. Such an enhanced network will continue to facilitate the process-level understanding and thus predictive ability of interactions between air pollution and terrestrial ecosystems and impacts on local-to-global climate and human health.

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