Luis Ortiz Joins AOES Faculty
This fall semester, AOES welcomes new climate dynamics faculty member Dr. Luis Ortiz. With Dr. Ortiz’ arrival, the department is expanding its research in the rapidly-growing topic of climate impacts.
Global warming has highlighted how the climate system is influenced by society, and has raised concerns over how climate change – both human-caused and naturally-occurring – affects people. Increasingly, climate scientists are collaborating with engineers, architects, economists, and public health experts to help society understand and adapt to such changes. The mutual influence is especially pronounced in cities, where the high concentration of people, buildings, and infrastructure make human habitation a defining feature of the environment and cause it to be especially sensitive to environmental disruption.
Dr. Ortiz says, “My research centers on advancing our understanding of how cities interact with the atmosphere in the context of a changing climate, and the impacts these interactions have on people and infrastructure. My work considers cities as complex systems of environmental, human, and engineered domains.”
One climate-society nexus studied by Dr. Ortiz is air-conditioning. Cities already become hotter than surrounding areas due to the urban heat island effect, and global warming will increase demand for AC in cities such as Richmond, Washington, and New York. At the same time, increased AC use risks boosting greenhouse gas emissions in generating the energy to run the units. Because air conditioning works by expelling heat from inside a building, it further heats the outdoors environment in densely populated cities.
Dr. Ortiz will be working with the Virginia Climate Center, which is beginning a two-year pilot phase to establish an extension service to partner with community and business leaders in the Commonwealth to help them increase their resilience to the impacts of climate variability and climate change. He says, "I'm beyond excited to join Mason and help stand up the Virginia Climate Center. It's a truly unique
opportunity to collaborate with communities in the Commonwealth and provide them with state-of-the art climate data and insights while extending my work on the impacts that climate adaptations have on people and the environment."
Luis Ortiz earned his PhD in Urban Climate and Energy from City College of New York, and worked at the Urban Systems Lab at the New School and US Department of Transportation before coming to George Mason. He is currently co-teaching CLIM 680 Climate Data.
Outside work, Dr. Ortiz is an avid baker and board game enthusiast.