Science and Innovation

Veerabhadran Ramanathan

Dr. Ramanathan is a Distinguished Professor at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, UCSD. In the 1970s, he discovered the greenhouse effect of CFCs and numerous other manmade trace gases, and forecasted in 1980 that global warming would be detectable by the year 2000. He, along with Paul Crutzen, led an international team that first discovered the presence of widespread Atmospheric Brown Clouds (ABCs).

Dr. Ramanathan showed that ABCs led to large-scale dimming, decreased monsoon rainfall and rice harvest in India, and played a dominant role in the melting of the Himalayan glaciers. His team developed unmanned aerial vehicles with miniaturized instruments to measure black carbon in soot over South Asia and to track pollution from Beijing during the Olympics. Now a member of Climate and Clean Air Coalition’s Science Advisory Panel, he has estimated that the reduction of black carbon can reduce global warming significantly. He is following this up with a climate mitigation initiative called Project Surya, which aims to reduce soot emissions from bio-fuel cooking in rural India.

Surya has successfully completed a pilot phase in a North Indian village with a population of 2,500. It is now embarking on the demonstration phase, in which it will cover a rural area of approximately 100 square kilometers with around 50,000 people in the densely populated Indo-Gangetic Plains of India. Within this area, Surya plans to replace traditional cooking methods with less-polluting options that utilize renewable or cleaner fuels. Surya aims to make its approach to climate mitigation a government policy in collaboration with intergovernmental organizations such as UNEP.

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