Brief Scientific Achievements of G. Beig

Dr. Gufran Beig has advanced his work under the specific theme Global Change in the atmosphere and made a few original contributions, which yielded him more than 65 scientific papers in international journals (including 5 review papers and 1 paper in Science) and prestigious international award including the Shanti Swarup Bhatnagar award of CSIR, Govt. of India and WMO (United Nations)-international award. The major contribution of his research work is to study the atmospheric climate forcing factors (surface to 100 km) under the influence of global change. The aim is to study the impact of increasing concentration of several greenhouse gases on the chemical and thermal structure of the lower and middle atmosphere. In particular, there are three most significant research areas and achievements made by the nominee which reflects his scientific leadership quality:

  • Significant atmospheric chemical-climate modeling work (both global and regional models) where radiation, dynamics and chemistry is treated interactively to study the influence of anthropogenic emissions on lower and middle atmospheric chemical species and thermal structure, and intercontinental transport of pollutants
  • Lead an international scientific assessment work on atmospheric temperature trends which firmly resolved significant global change signals in the upper atmosphere. Above findings have been reported to influence the radio communications, satellite movement and climate and weather pattern of the Earth system. This work yielded the Norbert Gerbier–Mumm International Award-2005 of World Meteorological Organization.
  • Establishment of air pollution network to monitor the ozone and other secondary pollutants like NOx, CO, HC, SO2, BC, SPM, etc over the Indian tropical region.
  • Development of the System of Air Quality Forecasting and Research (SAFAR) for the first time in India to provide the air quality forecasting 24 hours in advance

In addition to this, Dr. Beig organized several international scientific events like 21st  meeting of SC-IGBP at Pune, India in 2006, GURME training course of WMO for South Asian Young scientists in 2008, etc. A brief account of his major achievements is outlined below:

1.   Chemical-Climate Modeling

Changes in climate are driven by natural and human-induced perturbations of the Earth’s energy balance. Carbon dioxide is the largest human-made climate forcing, but other chemical trace constituents are also important. The most important of the non-CO2 forcings is methane, as it causes the 2nd largest human-made GHG climate forcing and is the principal cause of increased tropospheric ozone, which is the 3rd largest GHG forcing. Tropospheric ozone, which is produced by man-made emissions of air pollutants, is reported to be increased roughly by 35% from pre-industrial period, and added radiative forcing of roughly 0.35 Wm-2. Black carbon has a high global warming potential and deserves greater attention. Hence to accurately understand the radiative forcing and predicting climate change, climate models will be required that include an encompassing system approach where chemistry, radiation and transport are treated interactively, in order to adequately predict climate change. Several atmospheric climate models exists but with very little chemistry. Nominee has made lasting contribution to incorporate the detailed chemical schemes in the climate models and developed the expertise in our country in coupled 3-D chemistry-transport model simulations to understand the role of chemistry in climate change of the lower and middle atmosphere, focusing on the Indian subcontinent. Both global and regional models have been used. Model results revealed that the Indo-Gangetic plane region is the most polluted region in India (Beig and Ali, GRL, 2007). Nominee has also simulated at the first time the scenario of tropospheric changes in ozone and several other pollutants over India that have occurred during the 1990s in response to enhanced human activities (Beig and Brasseur, GRL, 2006). They have concluded that the increase in ozone during the past 3 decades over tropical region could have resulted in a radiative forcing of about 0.3-0.5 Wm-2 which may have caused significant climatic implications (Beig and Singh, GRL, 2007). The most crucial factor for accurately estimating the chemical-climate is the emission inventory of several pollutants like NOx, CO, VOCs, Black Carbon, etc which has been prepared and gridded by the nominee over the Indian region (Dalvi, Beig et al., Atmos. Environ., 2006) for which GIS based methodology has been developed. The direct radiative forcing at the top of atmosphere over India by BC is calculated by the nominee to be around 2.7 Wm-2 for the base year 2001 (Sahu and Beig, GRL, 2008).

2.  Development of the System for Air Quality Forecasting for Mega Cities in India

A System of Air Quality Forecasting and Research (SAFAR) to study the current distribution of air pollutants and to forecast the air quality at least 24 hours in advance is developed for the first time in India in a research mode as a case study for the mega city Delhi (NCR) in India for 50 km x 50 km domain. The air pollutants being studied are- NOx, CO, O3, Suspended Particulate Matters (PM10 and PM2.5), Benzene, Toluene Xylene and Black Carbon. The air quality forecasting system has two components namely, (1) Theoretical Modeling: The major components under this category are (a) meteorological model, (b) emission model and (c) atmospheric chemistry transport model (CTM) and (2) Observational network: The major components under this category are monitoring of- (i) Meteorological parameters like temperature, pressure, winds, radiations using Automatic Weather Station, (ii) Concentrations of all the above mentioned atmospheric pollution using online optical analyzers from 10 sets of monitoring stations within the model domain and (iii) activity data of the emission sources like fossil fuels, bio-fuel, bio-mass burning and biogenic sources. This objective is being achieved by 2 independent AQ forecasting systems for redundancy, developing confidence and quality assurance. The components of both systems are: SYSTEM-1: (a) Meteorological Model –REMO; (b) Emission Model –GIS based Model and (c) Atmospheric Chemistry Transport Model –REMO-Chem. SYSTEM-2: (a) Meteorological Model –WRF, (b) Emission Model –GIS /SMOKE and (c) Atmospheric Chemistry transport Model –CMAQ.

The AWS network data will provide the necessary input to meteorological forecasting model, output of which will go as input to CTM. The base line gridded emission data generated using GIS /SMOKE model will also go as input to CTM. Similarly, the air pollution data will also go as input to CTM. The atmospheric chemistry transport model CTM finally provide the air quality in real time as well as its forecasting (24 hours in advance with 5 km x 5 km resolutionThis exercise will be extended for other Metro cities in India. Model will also be able to identify the hot spot regions for mitigation measures.

3. Geo-engineering and Development of Model for Ionized Atmosphere

In the region extending from 0 to 50 km, charged species are of considerable interest due to their role in controlling the electrical properties of the atmospheric medium which in tern are very crucial in understanding the short-term and long-term meteorological responses like cloud cover changes, atmospheric temperature changes, strengthening and weakening of winter cyclones, etc. Nominee is one among a very few who have developed the coupled neutral-ion chemical models of troposphere in the upper atmosphere and introduced the concept of Human induced global change in the ionized components (Beig and Brasseur, JGR, 2000; Beig, Ann. Geophys., 2008). A remedy called “geo-engineering solution” has been recently proposed by some scientists to handle the global warming problem through injection of sulfates high aloft into the stratosphere. Nominee has recently studied for the first time the adverse impact of geo-engineering solution on ion composition of the stratosphere using the above model which revealed the dominance of heavy ions by several fold as compared to normal background case (Beig, GRL, 2008). Changes in the GEC has often been linked with the climatic change, global warming in particular. Global warming has been shown to result in an increase in global lightning frequency. and modify the radiative balance of the atmosphere, through changes communicated globally by the atmospheric electrical circuit. The conclusion which the nominee reached is that "creating a risk of influencing the electrical properties of the atmospheric medium to cut down on global warming does not seem like an appropriate fix". This conclusion is of extreme importance for weighing the advantages and disadvantages of a possible geo-engineering solution.

4. Upper Atmospheric Climatology

Research on upper atmosphere-troposphere interactions is important because the exchange between these two regions of the atmosphere can strongly affect atmospheric chemical concentrations and processes which play important role in climate-change issues. In recent time, it has been increasingly clear that release of trace gases from human activities is causing a change in the present-day climate of the Earth. The GHGs cools the upper atmosphere, even though it acts to warm the atmosphere near the Earth's surface. This paradox occurs because the atmosphere thins with height. The cooling will shrink the upper atmosphere and could have future consequences like radio and TV communications, navigation system and possibly affects lower atmospheric climate and weather patterns as revealed by nominee (Lastovicka, Beig et al., Science, 2006). Relatively little was known as to how the upper atmosphere (mesosphere and thermosphere) will respond to the increase in greenhouse gases led by CO2 before the first comprehensive review of long-term trends in the most vital meteorological parameter, namely, temperature of this region is made by the nominee about which picture was gloomy and no attempt was made earlier (Beig et al., Review of Geophys., 2003). This research has established that the impact of anthropogenic forcing from the ground and reported a cooling trends in the lower and mid-mesosphere with an amplitude of 2-4K per decade. Since then, scientific results already stared to come in support of nominee’s findings where it has been reported that Earth's upper atmosphere contracted and dropped by nearly 8 km in the past four decades. Nominee’s work also presented the much needed overview of the solar response in temperature structure and energy budget of the mesosphere and lower thermosphere (Beig et al., Review of Geophys., 2008).