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Lisa Emberson



Professor Lisa Emberson is an environmental pollution biologist in the Department of Environment and Geography. Lisa has over 20 years’ experience in the field of air pollution and climate change focussing on impacts on agricultural yields, forest productivity and the functioning of terrestrial semi-natural ecosystems. Her research has focussed on the development of modelling methods used to tighten controls on emissions leading to air pollution, and more recently to climate change. She has developed novel ‘flux-based’ risk assessment methods based on knowledge of atmospheric exchange processes and plant eco-physiology, which can be used to assess both pollutant deposition and uptake by vegetation and related damage. This has culminated in the atmosphere-terrestrial biosphere trace gas exchange model DO3SE (Deposition of Ozone and Stomatal Exchange) now used by practitioners world-wide to estimate the exchange of water vapour and carbon as well as O3 to assess the effects of poor air quality on vegetation. This research has supported emission reduction efforts under the UNECE Convention on Long Range Transboundary Air Pollution (CLRTAP).

The DO3SE model also provides a deposition module within existing atmospheric chemistry transport models (e.g. the EMEP model used in the development of emission reduction policy by the UNECE CLRTAP). This allows estimates of pollutant deposition and ecosystem damage across large continental regions and helps to provide a more biologically relevant estimate of the role that vegetation plays in removing pollution from the atmosphere, and hence the remaining concentration levels in the atmosphere that may affect human health. The ecosystem damage component of the model has been developed through collaboration with experimentalists, enabling the derivation of novel dose-response relationships for a number of crop, forest and semi-natural grassland species. These dose-response relationships are an important policy tool that have been used to derive ‘critical levels’ (acceptable levels of air quality) as well as estimates of actual crop yield losses, forest biomass losses and changes in the composition of semi-natural grasslands. As such they provide tools to ensure ecosystem protection and allow cost-benefit analysis of emission reductions within policy fora to help protect food security, carbon sequestration and biodiversity.

More recently, Lisa’s research has focussing on O3 and aerosol pollution in combination with climate extremes (i.e. heat and water stress) and consequent impacts on agricultural productivity. This research builds on the work of the extremely influential World Meteorological Institute (WMO)/United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) commissioned global assessment of the costs and benefits of controlling short-lived climate pollutants (SLCPs). Lisa was a lead author for the ‘impacts’ chapter of this report. To extend this research Lisa has been developing connections to the international crop modelling programme - AgMIP (Agricultural Modelling IntercomparisonProgramme). This is an exciting new development where, for the first time, air pollution damage modules are included in existing crop models to help support IPCC relevant estimations of future global food supply and emissions mitigation targets to alleviate near term climate change.

Lisa’s research also connects physical and socio-economic as well as policy disciplines. She is interested in understanding the role that bio-physical stress can play on food supply and how supply and demand econometrics can be used to assess impacts on food price and ultimately livelihoods of farmers and food access for consumers. She is also interested in policy to control and prevent pollution emissions and how technical and behavioural change interventions can lead to emission reductions, particularly in developing country contexts (i.e. south Asia and sub-Saharan Africa).

Lisa was the Centre Director of the Stockholm Environment Institute at York from 2012 to 2019. This role allowed Lisa to develop a broad understanding of the many challenges facing our future global environmental sustainability and how important a holistic understanding of environmental problems is to be able to find appropriate solutions. Lisa has worked at SEI York and the Department of Environment and Geography since 1999 holding various posts including ‘Atmospheric Environment’ programme director and ‘Managing Environmental Systems’ theme leader for the global SEI. Before this she was a post doc at Imperial College London (1996 – 1999). She holds a PhD in ‘Pollution Biology’ from Imperial College (1992 -1997) and a BSc in‘Environmental Biology’ from Manchester University (1989 – 1992).


2017- Professor SEI-Y/Department of Environment and Geography, University of York
2014-2017 Reader SEI-Y/Department of Environment and Geography, University of York.
2000-2014 Senior Lecturer Department of Environment and Geography, University of York
1999- Senior research fellow SEI-Y, University of York
1997-1999 Post doc Imperial College, London
1996 PhD in Air Pollution Studies Imperial College, London
1992 BSc in Environmental Biology Manchester University



Over the past 20 years Lisa’s research has focussed on various aspects of environmental pollution. The overarching theme of this research has been to understand the impacts of pollution (predominantly air pollution but also including some water and soil pollution) on environmental degradation. The focus has been on developing methodologies (predominantly physical based methodologies but now extending to socio-economic methodologies) to understand the nature and extent of these pollution impacts to ecosystems and ultimately to human health and well-being. This research has always been targeted to finding solutions to these impacts, either via mitigation (reducing pollution emissions) or via adaptation (conferring resilience or tolerance to polluted environments through technology or management).

Lisa has worked extensively in Europe, Asia and southern Africa. In Europe she her research has contributed to developing methodologies for use within the UNECE LRTAP Convention. This research focuses on investigating the biological, economic and social impacts of ground-level ozone on agriculture and forests and has led to the revision of methods to estimate both the deposition and impacts of tropospheric ozone using flux based Critical Levels as a policy tool across Europe. In south Asia Lisa’s research has supported the ‘Malé Declaration’, an inter-governmental treaty established to control and prevent air pollution in the seven South Asian countries. In southern Africa Lisa’s research support the Air Pollution Network in Africa (APINA).

Lisa has also been involved in a number of important global initiatives and assessments. These include the international crop modelling programme AgMIP (Agricultural Modelling Intercomparison Programme). This is an exciting new development where, for the first time, air pollution damage modules will be included in existing crop models to help support IPCC relevant estimations of future global food supply and emissions mitigation targets to alleviate near term climate change. Lisa has also been involved in involved in the UNECE HTAP (Hemispheric Transport of Air Pollution) Task Force, specifically to explore the role of recent emission mitigation achievements in relation to ecosystem impacts. Finally, Lisa was a lead chapter author of the UNEP/WMO global assessment on ‘Integrated Assessment of Black Carbon and Tropospheric Ozone’, an influential report showing that mitigation of these SLCPs would complement carbon dioxide reduction measures and would have immediate benefits for human well-being.


Resilience of Livelihoods in a Climate Change Context: Scoping study to identify datasets, models and knowledge frameworks. (Funder STFC; £8k; July 2019 – Nov 2019) This project will explore how the physical environment might influence socio-economic conditions and how environmental change ‘plays out’ in the overall context of farmers’ livelihoods, focusing on data-poor environments in Southern Africa. To achieve this we will identify a wide range of physical and socio-economic datasets and associated modelling methods and look to combine these using AI techniques to see if there are patterns in physical and socio-economic variables that combine to influence farmers’ livelihoods.

Ozone and climate stresses on vegetation (Double Punch). Norwegian Research Council; £25k; April 2017 - March 2021) This project investigates combined effects of ozone and climate stresses on Arctic and boreal species, with a focus on impacts of the long daylengths in this region as a novel element. The project conducts plant physiological and mycological experiments to quantify the effects of ozone polluted air under the conditions in Northern areas, with midnight sun, and feed the new information into widely used climate and tropospheric ozone injury models. The improved models will give a better representation of the interactions between tropospheric ozone, vegetation and climate in Arctic and tundra areas, and therefore a better foundation for political decisions for emission reductions.

Affordable Air Quality Monitoring for Improved Air Quality Management in West Africa (£680k; GCRF Translation Awards; Oct 2019 – March 2020). The project has the overarching objective of supporting the development of sustainable monitoring and modelling systems for air pollution that will help LMIC countries in West Africa to develop and implement their Air Quality Management Plans. This will be achieved by working in 3 West African countries (Ghana, Togo and Cote d'Ivoire) with project partner research institutions, Universities and policy makers in these countries to : i. overcoming the lack of air pollution monitoring data in West African cities through co-designed and co-produced highly; fault-tolerant and affordable systems for air pollution measurement that can be made widely available through full opensource dissemination; ii. developing methods by which these monitored data can be integrated with modelled data that describe city-wide emission and pollutant concentration fields to both validate model outputs and ensure that monitoring sites are optimally located across the city and; iii. developing institutional infrastructures that can provide technical, financial and political support to this integrated monitoring and modelling approach to air quality management, bespoke to particular cities and regions of West Africa.

Sustainable Manufacturing and Environmental Pollution (SMEP). (UNCTAD/UKDFID; $300k; April 2019 – March 2020). This project aims to reduce the environmental and social impacts of manufacturing in developing countries by developing technical solutions that will help reduce the levels of pollution and environmental degradation generated by industrial/manufacturing processes in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) and South Asia (SA).

Developing resilience and tolerance of crop resource use efficiency to climate change and air pollution (SUSCAP). (ERA-NET SusCrop €1.6M for entire consortium; UK Defra; £60k for York Component). This project consortium is lead by the UoYork and will explore: i. which multi-stress combinations (e.g. pollution (aerosol & ozone), drought, high temperatures, low soil fertility) are most likely to adversely affect crop resource use efficiency; ii. Describe the frequency, magnitude and geographical distribution of the most damaging of these multi-stress combinations; iii. Identify new crop physiological traits and crop management practices that could support adaptation to these multi-stressor impacts and iv. through dialogue with a variety of stakeholders identify appropriate, realistic and feasible adaptation solutions.   

Contribution to the UNECE LRTAP ICP Vegetation Programme. (UK Defra; £30k; April 2017 – March 2020) The International Co-operative Programme on Vegetation (ICP Vegetation) was established in 1987 under the United Nation Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) Convention on Long-Range Transboundary Air Pollution (LRTAP) to investigate the impacts of air pollutants on crops and (semi-)natural vegetation. York’s role in the ICP vegetation has been i. to review knowledge of air pollution impacts to countries in South Asia as part of LRTAPs outreach agenda to regions outside of Europe; ii. to review dose-response relationships to ozone for forest trees across Europe and iii. to contribute to the development of new risk assessment methodologies to help in establishing critical levels for the combined impacts of ozone and nitrogen pollution across Europe. Further information on the ICP vegetation can be found at

Interaction of climate extremes, air pollution and agro-ecosystems (CiXPAG). (Norwegian Research Council; £132k March 2015 – Dec 2019) CiXPAG will investigate the complex interactions between climate extremes, air pollution and agricultural ecosystems. Climate extremes (e.g., droughts and heatwaves) and air pollution events often co-occur causing serious losses in agricultural productivity. Our understanding of how these stresses interact is poorly developed, and the consequences for agricultural ecosystems in some of the worst affected and most vulnerable areas are almost non-existent. CiXPAG will develop novel methods to incorporate ground-level ozone pollution fluxes in statistical crop models and the estimation of crop yields. Socio-economic methods will inform the integration of regional climate and pollutant modelling methods to provide an integrated assessment of agricultural productivity under different climate and pollutant regimes, which will contribute to the framing of effective climate change adaptation strategies and air pollution regulations.


2007- UNEP £6K Atmospheric Brown Cloud: Agricultural impacts
2006-2009 Sida £30K GAP Forum air pollution impacts on agricultural production
2006-2009 Defra £27K The UNECE International Cooperative Programme on Vegetation
2006-2009 Defra £193K Modelling and mapping ozone deposition and stomatal flux with Mike Ashmore
2005-2006 SEI NOVA £10K Food security, climate change and ozone
2004-2007 Sida £130K RAPIDC air pollution impacts to crops in southern Africa and South Asia
2004-2005 START/PACOM £20K Agricultural production, drought and air quality in Southern Africa
2004-2007 NERC £160K Tropospheric ozone pollution: using stable isotopes to quantify ozone deposition, uptake and detoxification with Phil Ineson
2003-2006 Defra £60K The UNECE International Cooperative Programme on Vegetation
2003-2006 Defra £241K Modelling and mapping ozone deposition and stomatal flux with Mike Ashmore
2002-2004 EU £50K Forest Focus Programme: Ozone and Mediterranean forests
2001-2004 Sida £130K RAPIDC air pollution impacts to crops and forests in developing countries
2000-2003 Defra £158K Modelling ozone flux and deposition with Mike Ashmore


PhD Students

Maigari Mohammed Dauda - Spatio–temporal analysis of air pollutants and their implications to human health and environment in Kaduna metropolis, Kaduna state, Nigeria.

Ruchirek Ratchaburi - The Importance of Long-Range and Local Emission Sources for Mitigating the Potential Health Impact of Airborne Particulate Matter in Thailand

Jehad Jabr Nasser - Integrating air quality and climate change strategies in Oman

Anjar Priandoyo – Developing energy scenarios for Indonesia that will reduce Short-Lived Climate Pollutants (SLCPs) and their impacts. 

Olajide Olawoyin – Understanding trends in emissions and associated impacts in 3 West Africa countries – Ghana, Cote d’Ivoire and Nigeria

Andrianah Mbandi - Estimating atmospheric pollution emissions from transport in Nairobi, Kenya. (PhD awarded in 2017)

Steph Osborne – Understanding the impact of ozone on crop production across continents (Europe, North America and South Asia). (PhD awarded in 2017)

Chubamenla Jamir – Assessing ozone impacts on arable crops in south Asia: Identification of suitable risk assessment methods to improve crop biotechnology (PhD awarded in 2011)


Selected publications

Gaurin, J. R., Emberson, L. D., Simpson, D., Hernandez-Ochoa, I., Rowland, D. & Asseng, S., (2019) Impacts of tropospheric ozone and climate change on Mexico wheat production. Climatic Change

Osborne, S., Pandey, D., Mills, G., Hayes, F., Harmens, H., Gillies, D., Büker, P. and Emberson, L. (2019). New Insights into Leaf Physiological Responses to Ozone for Use in Crop Modelling. Plants, 8(4). 84

Mbandi, A. M., Böhnke, J. R., Schwela, D., Vallack, H., Ashmore, M. R. & Emberson, L., (2019) Estimating on-road vehicle fuel economy in Africa: A case study based on an urban transport survey in Nairobi, Kenya. Energies

Emberson, L.D., Pleijel, H., Ainsworth, L., Van den Berg, M., Ren, W., Osborne, S. A., Mills, G., Pandey, D., Dentener, F., Bueker, P., Ewert, F., Koeble, R. & Van Dingenen, R.  (2018) Ozone effects on crops and consideration in crop models. European Journal of Agronomy Vol. 100: 19-34

Mills, G., Sharps, K., Simpson, D, Pleijel, H., Frei, M., Burkey, K., Emberson, L., Uddling, J., Broberg, M., Feng, Z., Kobayashi, K., Agrawal, M. (2018) Closing the global ozone yield gap: Quantification and cobenefits for multistress tolerance. Global Change Biology. Vol 24 (10): 4869-4893

Mills, G., Sharps, K., Simpson, D., Pleijel, H., Broberg, M., Uddling, J., Jaramillo, F., Davies, W.J., Dentener, F., van den Berg, M., Agrawal, M., Agrawal, S.B., Ainsworth, E.A., Buker, P., Emberson, L., Feng, Z., Harmens, H., Hayes, F., Kopbayashi, K., Paoletti, E., Van Dingenen, R. (2018) Ozone pollution will compromise efforts to increase global wheat production. Global Change Biology 24:3560-3574.

Anenberg, S.C., Miller, J., Injares, R.M., Du, L., Henze, D.K., Lacey, F., Malley, C.S., Emberson, L., Franco, V., Klimont, Z., Heyes, C. (2018) Impacts and mitigation of excess diesel-related NOx emissions in 11 major vehicle markets. Nature: 545, 467

Hardacre, C., Wild, O., & Emberson, L. D. (2015). An evaluation of ozone dry deposition in global scale chemistry climate models. Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics, 13(14), 6741–6755.

Büker, P., Feng, Z., Uddling, J., Briolat,  a., Alonso, R., Braun, S., Elvira, S., Gerosa, G., Karlsson, P. E., Le Thiec, D., Marzuoli, R., Mills, G., Oksanen, E., Wieser, G., Wilkinson, M. and Emberson, L. D. (2015). New flux based dose–response relationships for ozone for European forest tree species, Environ. Pollut., 206, 163–174.

Emberson, L. D., Kitwiroon, N., Beevers, S., Büker, P., & Cinderby, S. (2013). Scorched Earth: how will changes in the strength of the vegetation sink to ozone deposition affect human health and ecosystems? Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics, 13(14), 6741–6755.

Shindell, D., Kuylenstierna, J. C. I., Vignati, E., van Dingenen, R., Amann, M., Klimont, Z., Anenberg, S. C., Muller, N., Janssens-Maenhout, G., Raes, F., Schwartz, J., Faluvegi, G., Pozzoli, L., Kupiainen, K., Höglund-Isaksson, L., Emberson, L., Streets, D., Ramanathan, V., Hicks, K., Oanh, N. T. K., Milly, G., Williams, M., Demkine, V. and Fowler, D. (2012) Simultaneously mitigating near-term climate change and improving human health and food security., Science, 335(6065), 183–9.

Büker, P., Morrissey, T., Briolat, a., Falk, R., Simpson, D., Tuovinen, J.-P., Alonso, R., Barth, S., Baumgarten, M., Grulke, N., Karlsson, P. E., King, J., Lagergren, F., Matyssek, R., Nunn, A., Ogaya, R., Peñuelas, J., Rhea., L., Schaub, M., Uddling, J., Werner, W., and Emberson, L.D. (2012) DO3SE modelling of soil moisture to determine ozone flux to forest trees, Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics, 12(12), 5537-5562

Ainsworth, E. A, Yendrek, C. R., Sitch, S., Collins, W. J., & Emberson, L. D. (2012). The Effects of Tropospheric Ozone on Net Primary Productivity and Implications for Climate Change. Annual Review of Plant Biology, 637–663.

Full publications list

See full list on Pure



  • Ecological Principles for the Environment (Year 1)
  • Physical Geography (Year 1)
  • Frontiers in Environmental Science (Year 1)
  • Land Use Change and Management: Perspectives from Agriculture & Forestry (Year 3)


  • Environment and Health (MSc)
Emberson, Lisa

Contact details

Professor Lisa Emberson
Department of Environment and Geography
University of York
YO10 5NG

Tel: 01904 322925