ATLANTA — The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is providing a total of $2,238,053 to three universities across the Southeast for four research projects examining the impacts of extreme weather on air and water quality. The recipients include the Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech), Mississippi State University and the University of South Florida.

The grants are part of EPA’s Science to Achieve Results (STAR) program, which supports human health, ecology, economics, and engineering sciences through grants, centers, and fellowships. These STAR grants will support research to improve air and water quality following severe heat waves, droughts, storms and other natural disasters.

The following projects are among just 14 selected nationally to receive nearly $9 million to research and develop tools to prepare air and water quality management systems for extreme weather:

Georgia Tech ($749,859) — This project, led by Dr. Yuhang Wang, will look at the air quality impacts of extreme weather events. Meteorological conditions and pollution concentrations will be analyzed from the last 30 years to determine how extreme weather events affect concentrations of ozone and particulate matter. This information will be used to project how a changing future climate may affect extreme weather events and air quality.

Mississippi State University ($363,258) — This project, led by Dr. Jeffery Hatten, will investigate the role of land use decisions and best management practices for controlling sediment on water quality in the face of climate change. The research team will explore the degree to which extreme storms will decrease the effectiveness of best management practices and change sediment and pollutant transport.

University of South Florida (two grants: $750,000 and $374,936) — One grant of $750,000 awarded to the university’s College of Marine Science will support the development of tools to predict future water quality degradation associated with extreme weather events and a changing climate. The research team, which includes the Tampa Bay Estuary Program, will create a decision-support system integrating real-time environmental and satellite observations for professionals engaged in coastal planning and development.

The second grant of $374,936 will be used will develop tools to predict how climatic variability and extremes will affect water quality by altering water-borne disease risk for wildlife and humans. Dr. Jason R. Rohr and his colleagues hypothesize that the faster metabolism and smaller size of parasites than their hosts allow them to adapt quickly to temperature shifts and extremes, providing an advantage to parasites.

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