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Environmental Issues
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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. 

Between 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.

Between 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 pollution levels.