A common area of concern in Atlanta is how the growth of Atlanta is impacting the climate and air of the area. Project ATLANTA is a recently funded investigation into how the rapid growth of the metropolitan Atlanta area since the 1970s has impacted the regions climate and air quality. Their key goal is the determine how the change in land cover from forest lands to urban lands has and will effect local and regional climate, surface energy flux, and air quality characteristics.
1970 and 1980, Atlanta’s population increased by 27% and between 1980 and 1990
it increased by another 33%. This
has brought growth in the retail, commercial, industrial, and transportation
services. Over the past 25 years,
there has been an enormous transition from forest and agricultural land to urban
land and subsequent changes in the land-atmosphere energy balance.
In addition, air quality has declined with increases in ozone and
emission of VOCs. The EPA suggests
that Atlanta will require a 90% decrease in nitrogen oxide emissions to meet
present ozone standards.
1973 and 1992, there was more than a 17% decline in forest land and building has
only increased over the past 10 years. The
clearing of 350,000 acres of forest in 25 years and the increase to 670,000
acres of suburbs has created a 17 square mile hot zone in the business district
of Atlanta. Due to the heat island
effect, the temperature in Atlanta is frequently 10oF warmer than
surrounding areas. The heat island
effect also creates its own winds and thunderstorms and increases the production
of ground-level ozone (the 10o temperature difference can double the
amount of ozone produced). The
thunderstorms created can be a threat to Atlanta.
Due to the large amount of paved surfaces, flash flooding can occur.
As for pollution, within the heat island, there is a 30% increase in air