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Professor joins elite team of scientists for United Nations climate change research

Loyola press release - February 10, 2014

Research from Loyola University New Orleans scientist Paul Barnes, Ph.D., is on its way to benefiting the world. Barnes is joining an elite team of scientists on the United Nations Environment Programme’s Environmental Effects Assessment Panel to investigate the latest effects of stratospheric ozone depletion, which will culminate in a report published once every four years.

Barnes and experts from around the world are coming together Feb. 23-March 3 in Cuernavaca, Mexico, to detail how additional UV rays seeping through the Earth’s atmosphere affect human health, manufactured materials, ecological systems, climate change and other areas. The group will meet again this August in Zhengzhou, China.

Barnes’ contribution to the international research effort focuses on what happens to plants and ecosystems under the diminished ozone layer. Ozone depletion and the resulting increased UV could affect things like how fast dead plant material decomposes—ultimately affecting the availability of vital nutrients for plants and soil. Plants exposed to more of the sun’s harmful rays also react by adding more “sunscreen” chemicals to their leaves for protection, according to Barnes.

Those consequences have a complicated domino effect on the entire ecosystem, disruptively flowing through the entire food chain. For example, when plants change chemically for sun protection, it can affect the herbivores that eat the plants, according to Barnes.

Barnes will also lend his expertise to the European Union March 30 in Bled, Slovenia. He will act as an outside evaluator, providing feedback on UV and climate change research funded by the EU. Barnes will work with the European Cooperation in Science and Technology, which coordinates nationally funded research for Europe.