As record wildfires continue to rage in Australia, two environmental science experts at IUPUI -- Indiana University's premier urban research campus in downtown Indianapolis -- are available to comment on the causes of the fires, as well as the impacts they will have on human health and the planet.

Lixin Wang, an associate professor in the Department of Earth Sciences at IUPUI, researches biogeochemistry, ecohydrology and isotope hydrology. Before joining IUPUI, Wang worked as a researcher at Princeton University and the University of New South Wales in Australia.

Wang can discuss:

  • The natural variability of bushfires among years
  • The mechanisms that result in conditions that make the Australian bushfires stronger, such as drought and higher temperatures
  • The role of climate change in bushfire futures
  • The health impact of the Australian bushfires

Gabriel Filippelli, a professor in the Department of Earth Sciences at IUPUI, is a biogeochemist -- focusing on the flow and cycling of elements and chemicals in the environment. This includes his work on pollutant distribution and exposure to human populations, and ways to engage communities to reduce their own exposures. Filippelli is also an affiliate of the Environmental Resilience Institute, funded through IU's Prepared for Environmental Change Grand Challenge initiative. He directs IUPUI's Center for Urban Health and is the editor-in-chief of GeoHealth.

Filippelli can discuss:

  • How climate change can cause and exacerbate wildfires
  • How resulting smoke from the bushfires will affect human health in Australia and beyond
  • The biggest challenges concerning air pollution in Australia and the surrounding region, particularly New Zealand, is both bushfire smoke and, to a lesser extent, heat-enhanced ozone and particulate matter exposure