Melba Lara: You're listening to WBEZ. And it's time for our weekly climate conversation. The US Department of Energy is going to spend $66 million on studying the effect of climate change on urban communities. And one of the three cities that will be a hub for this new research is Chicago. Researchers plan to look at how the climate will evolve in our region, even at the street level. Joining us now is Dr. Scott Collis, an atmospheric scientist at Argonne National Laboratory who's leading measurements for the new project. Scott, welcome back.
Scott Collis: Thank you, Melba.
Melba Lara: And, you know, we've had you on the show to talk about hurricanes and wildfires and volcanoes, pretty much stuff all over the world, it's, it's got to be pretty interesting for you to get to examine the climate so close to home.
Scott Collis: I'm super excited to be doing this project. As a meteorologists and an atmospheric scientist, we study phenomena all around the world. But the thing that really gets us engaged, the thing that gets us into the field, is the weather outside the window, especially working with the communities in Chicago.
Melba Lara: You know, some people have this misconception that Chicago is kind of immune from climate changes, especially compared to the extreme effects that we're seeing in other parts of the world. But how does climate change affect the city like Chicago?
Scott Collis: Well, Chicago is a built environment. And there are three ways which climate change impacts and will continue to impact Chicago: one of them is water, rainfall. Water doesn't stay where it falls, it moves, and it moves according to the engineered environment around it. Sometimes in the heaviest rainfall, the places that flood or not where the rain falls. The other way is our air quality, just the act of industry and making energy creates bad air quality. And the worst of all, is heat. Heat kills, heat kills more people than tornadoes.
Melba Lara: And if we loop back to this Department of Energy Project, what is it that you hope to learn from this research project?
Scott Collis: So we've discussed a lot about climate simulations on this show Melba. How they're quite cause and they give us this really broad brush view of climate and the weather the climate change will produce this project is going to look at Chicago with a microscope, we're going to go from that broad brush view down to the neighborhood and the very street level, using a mixture of new state of the art measurements and incredibly high resolution simulations.
Melba Lara: Do you think you'll be looking at issues of environmental justice and how some neighborhoods could see some worse effects of climate change than maybe some of the other neighborhoods?
Scott Collis: Absolutely, were working with for community groups will work with blacks in green, the Puerto Rican agenda, the greater Chatham initiative, and the Metropolitan mayor's caucus, to identify those very environmental justice issues, we should be bringing our state of the art Department of Energy Office of Science tools to bear on.
Melba Lara: One of the goals of this project is to inform communities to build resilience against climate change. I know that you're just getting started here, but can you give us some examples of what those solutions might look like?
Scott Collis: Absolutely. And one of them is - you know, trees! Trees are really good. Trees actually cool our environment. We call it green infrastructure. One of the goals of CROCUS, which is "the community research on climate and urban science," is to actually work out how good are trees. What are the right trees and what is the right kind of green infrastructure? If someone actually builds a green roof, how much difference does it make? Putting real numbers behind these climate resilient solutions and giving communities the real data they need to make good decisions.
Melba Lara: Scott. Thanks for telling us about this new research that's going to be looking at our area. We appreciate it.
Scott Collis: Thank you, Melba.
Melba Lara: Dr. Scott Collis is an atmospheric scientist at nearby Argon National Laboratory. And if you have a question for our weekly climate segment, email us at email@example.com
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