Brookhaven scientist Stephen Schwartz wins 2022 Haagen-Smit Clean Air Award

RIVERSIDE, CA — Senior Scientist Emeritus Stephen Schwartz, an integral member of the Division of Environmental and Climate Science at the United States Department of Energy’s (DOE) Brookhaven National Laboratory, is one of six recipients selected for the Haagen-Smit Clean Air Awards 2020-2021 . The award is named after Arie J. Haagen-Smit, a chemist and leader in developing early air quality standards and air pollution control.

Presented by the California Air Resources Board (CARB), the award honors outstanding scientists, policymakers, activists and experts who advocate for improving air quality through air quality and climate research, community service in air quality, environmental justice, international leadership in air quality, and environmental policy.

CARB solicits nominations from the public every year. Recipients were invited to their headquarters in Riverside, California to receive their award at a May 20 board meeting. Schwartz praised the State of California and CARB for the active role they have played in the fight for cleaner air and a healthier environment. “They really are the most aggressive state in terms of promoting clean air regulation, on vehicle emissions, and now on climate change, so I’m really honored to receive this award from CARB. †

Schwartz is a recognized expert in atmospheric chemistry, radiative forcing of climate change, and climate response to anthropogenic factors. His research includes the influences of energy-related emissions on the environment, with a focus on the role of atmospheric aerosols. Trained as a chemist, specializing in physical chemistry and chemical kinetics, Schwartz has been with Brookhaven Lab since 1975. His work has helped shape future research on climate change and environmental policy.

Several of Schwartz’s publications have had a broad impact on both science and policy. One paper in particular, written with JE Freiberg in Atmospheric environment“Restriction of mass transport to the reaction rate of gases in liquid droplets” (1981), not only advanced the understanding of acid rain – a pressing problem at the time – but also provided a general approach to interactions of trace gases with atmospheric droplets and particles contained in the future would be used by many other scientists for a variety of atmospheric studies.

Another paper that had an even greater impact was a study published by Schwartz in the journal Science, in 1989, on the influence of emissions on a regional scale. “I didn’t realize it at the time, but this document turned out to be very important for policy formulation,” Schwartz recalls. Several years after the paper was published, the next speaker, an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) policymaker, announced after lecturing at a scientific conference that she was delighted to be on the same platform as Schwartz, noting noted that that paper had helped her and her team to formulate acid rain amendments to the Clean Air Act. That legislation resulted in the national program to reduce the pollutants that cause acid rain — sulfur dioxide and nitrogen dioxide — resulting in a massive reduction in acid deposition over time. Schwartz calls this a true success story: from research to policy to results.

The award goes beyond recognizing a particular paper or research topic – it honors a long career addressing atmospheric problems in the past and present, while laying the foundation for work to understand the environmental problems of the future. “While our research has moved away from acid rain, advances in the understanding of atmospheric science remain with us and led directly to our first estimates of the influences of atmospheric aerosols on climate change. This strong connection has led to a much more nuanced understanding,” notes black on.

“The scientist’s role is to provide insight, to present science in an engaging way. The decisions, policy formulation, must come from that,” said Schwartz, emphasizing the consequences of delaying action to mitigate our current climate crisis.

His most recent work has quantified the effects of delaying efforts to curb emissions. “The longer we wait,” said Schwartz, “the warmer our global temperatures will be, even as new technologies and policies are introduced to combat climate change.”

Schwartz acknowledged the contributions of his colleagues, pointing out the importance of continued support from the U.S. Department of Energy over the course of his career: “This kind of continued support is essential to maintaining high-quality research teams and, ultimately, sound scientific research.” research. “

Brookhaven National Laboratory is supported by the Office of Science of the United States Department of Energy. The Office of Science is the largest proponent of basic science research in the United States, working to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time. For more information, visit

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