CUHK Prof. Amos P.K. Tai, The First Hong Kong Scientist To Receive the WMO Research Award for Young Scientists
Prof. Amos P.K. Tai of the Earth System Science Programme at The Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK) received the United Nations’ World Meteorological Organization (WMO) Research Award for Young Scientists 2015 from Mr. C.M. Shun, Director of the Hong Kong Observatory and Permanent Representative of Hong Kong, China with WMO today (1 September 2015). This prestigious award was conferred on him in recognition of a scientific paper entitled “Threat to future global food security from climate change and ozone air pollution” that he published in the Journal of “Nature Climate Change”. Professor Tai is the first Hong Kong scientist receiving the Award.
In the study for which Professor Tai is receiving the award, Professor Tai found that warming alone will reduce global agricultural production by more than 10% by year 2050, but the combined effect of global warming and air pollution can be even more detrimental to crop yields. In the worst-case scenario, the undernourished population in developing countries can climb up by about 50% by 2050. Nonetheless, strict controls on air pollution can partially offset the adverse impacts of climate change, leading to a smaller combined global crop production decrease. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, the worldwide demand for food is expected to double by 2050, but human beings’ ability to produce enough food is severely challenged by climate change. Professor Tai’s findings show that the interactive effect of global warming and air pollution can in particular significantly threaten global food production, suggesting that policy makers should take both factors into account in addressing the imminent global food crisis.
In presenting the Award to Professor Tai on behalf of WMO, Mr. Shun said, ‘Professor Tai’s receiving the “WMO Research Award for Young Scientists” is an honour for the meteorological community in Hong Kong. Professor Tai’s study on global food security is a timely reminder to us that the impacts of climate change are highly relevant to our daily life. Under the influence of global warming, high temperature records in Hong Kong have been broken rather frequently in recent years. Actions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and to make our society more resilient to climate change effects must be taken without delay. The Observatory will spare no efforts to undertake researches on climate change and support local institutions on related projects. My gratitude goes to Professor Tai and other fellow scientists for their research results which translate into science-based climate information and services for all decision makers and stakeholders to carry out the mitigation and adaptation measures. Food security, water resources, disaster risk reduction, health and energy are the priorities of WMO in providing these climate services.’
Professor Tai remarked, ‘I am honored to be a recipient of the WMO Research Award for Young Scientists this year. I wish to thank members of my research team and my collaborating partners for their great work and support over the years. I would also like to express my sincere thanks to the Hong Kong Observatory, through which the nomination to WMO was successfully made. We will strive to continue our studies on the consequences of global environmental change, so that policy makers can be better informed to formulate optimal strategies for a sustainable future.’
About Prof. Amos P.K. Tai
Professor Tai is an Assistant Professor in the Earth System Science Programme of the Faculty of Science at CUHK. His research examines the complex interactions between climate, atmospheric chemistry and the biosphere, focusing on aspects that directly impact human society such as air pollution, climate change, agriculture, and public health.
Before he joined CUHK, Professor Tai was a Croucher Postdoctoral Fellow at MIT, where he also obtained his BSc degree. He obtained his PhD in Environmental Science and Engineering from Harvard, where he examined the effects of climate change on particulate matter air quality.
Aside from the WMO Research Award for Young Scientists, Professor Tai has received various other accolades, including Early Career Award from Research Grants Council (Hong Kong) in 2014-2015; Faculty Exemplary Teaching Award in 2014; Young Scientist Award from iCACGP in 2010; Harvey Fellowship from the Mustard Seed Foundation in 2009-2012; Harvard University Certificate of Distinction in Teaching in 2008, 2009; Howard T. Fisher Prize for Excellence in GIS in 2008 amongst others.
About WMO Research Award for Young Scientists
Since 1970, the WMO has been granting the ‘WMO Research Award for Young Scientists’ to young scientists as a means of encouragement for their outstanding research work in all fields of meteorology and hydrology. In the past 45 years, 42 awards have been granted with the winners coming from 30 different countries. The WMO is the United Nations’ agency for weather, climate, and water.