Michael McElroy

Gilbert Butler Professor of Environmental Studies

Michael McElroy


Michael McElroy (迈克尔•迈克艾罗伊) studies changes in the composition of the atmosphere with an emphasis on the impact of human activity. His research includes investigations of processes affecting the abundance of ozone in the stratosphere and factors influencing the chemical composition of the troposphere. It explores the manner in which changes in the composition of the atmosphere affect climate.

Professor McElroy seeks to place the impact of contemporary human activity in a larger context by studying large-scale changes in the environment that occurred in the past. His research addresses also challenges for public policy posed by the rapid pace of industrialization in developing countries such as China and India while exploring alternative strategies for more sustainable development in mature economies such as the United States. He is the Chair of the Harvard China Project, which researches the environmental changes, atmospheric systems, and their impact on populations in China.

Selected Publications


  • McElroy, M.B. 2018. Energy and Climate: Vision for the Future. New York: Oxford University Press. 
  • McElroy, M.B. 2011. Energy: Perspectives, Problems and Prospects (Chinese edition). Beijing: Science Press. In Chinese. 
  • McElroy, M.B. 2009. Energy: Perspectives, Problems and Prospects. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 
  • McElroy, M.B. 2002. The Atmospheric Environment: Effects of Human Activity. Princeton: Princeton University Press. 
  • McElroy, M.B., C.P. Nielsen, and P. Lydon. Energizing China: Reconciling Environmental Protection and Economic Growth. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press and Harvard University Committee on Environment.

Recent Articles and Chapters

  • Meng Gao, Jinhui Gao, Bin Zhu, Rajesh Kumar, Xiao Lu, Shaojie Song, Yuzhong Zhang, Beixi Jia, Peng Wang, Gufran Beig, Jianlin Hu, Qi Ying, Hongliang Zhang, Peter Sherman, and Michael B. McElroy. 2020. “Ozone pollution over China and India: seasonality and sources.” Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics, 20, 7.
  • Meng Gao, Zirui Liu, Bo Zheng, Dongsheng Ji, Peter Sherman, Shaojie Song, Jinyuan Xin, Cheng Liu, Yuesi Wang, Qiang Zhang, Jia Xing, Jingkun Jiang, Zifa Wang, Gregory R. Carmichael, and Michael B. McElroy. 2020. “China’s emission control strategies have suppressed unfavorable influences of climate on wintertime PM2.5 concentrations in Beijing since 2002.” Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics, 20, 3.
  • Archana Dayalu, J. William Munger, Yuxuan Wang, Steven C. Wofsy, Yu Zhao, Thomas Nehrkorn, Chris P. Nielsen, Michael B. McElroy, and Rachel Chang. 2020. “Evaluating China’s anthropogenic CO2 emissions inventories: a northern China case study using continuous surface observations from 2005 to 2009.” Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics, 20, 3.
  • Peter Sherman, Eli Tziperman, Clara Deser, and Michael B. McElroy. 2020. “Historical and future roles of internal atmospheric variability in modulating summertime Greenland Ice Sheet melt.” Geophysical Research Letters, 47, 6.
  • Peter Sherman, Xinyu Chen, and Michael B. McElroy. 2020. “Offshore wind: an opportunity for costcompetitive decarbonization of China’s energy economy.” Science Advances, 6, 8, Pp. eaax9571.
  • Haikun Wang, Xi Lu, Yu Deng, Yaoguang Sun, Chris P. Nielsen, Yifan Liu, Ge Zhu, Maoliang Bu, Jun Bi, and Michael B. McElroy. 2019. “China’s CO2 peak before 2030 implied from diverse characteristics and growth of cities.” Nature Sustainability.
  • Xi Lu, Liang Cao, Haikun Wang, Wei Peng, Jia Xing, Shuxiao Wang, Siyi Cai, Bo Shen, Qing Yang, Chris P. Nielsen, and Michael B. McElroy. 2019. “Gasification of coal and biomass as a net carbon-negative power source for environment-friendly electricity generation in China.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 
  • Peter Sherman, Meng Gao, Shaojie Song, Patrick Ohiomoba, Alex Archibald, and Michael B. McElroy. 2019. “The influence of dynamics and emissions changes on China’s wintertime haze.” Journal of Applied Meteorology and Climatology. 
  • Xingning Han, Xinyu Chen, Michael B. McElroy, Shiwu Liao, Chris P. Nielsen, and Jinyu Wen. 2019. “Modeling formulation and validation for accelerated simulation and flexibility assessment on large scale power systems under higher renewable penetrations.” Applied Energy, 237, Pp. 145-154. 
  • S.J. Song, M. Gao, W.Q. Xu, Y.L. Sun, D.R. Worsnop, J.T. Jayne, Y.Z. Zhang, L. Zhu, M. Li, Z. Zhou, C.L. Cheng, Y.B. Lv, Y. Wang, W. Peng, X.B. Xu, N. Lin, Y.X. Wang, S.X. Wang, J. W. Munger, D. Jacob, and M.B. McElroy. 2019. “Possible heterogeneous hydroxymethanesulfonate (HMS) chemistry in northern China winter haze and implications for rapid sulfate formation.” Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics, 19, Pp. 1357-1371.
  • Shi Chen, Xi Lu, Yufei Miao, Yu Deng, Chris P. Nielsen, Noah Elbot, Yuanchen Wang, Kathryn G. Logan, Michael B. McElroy, and Jiming Hao. 2019. “The potential of photovoltaics to power the Belt and Road Initiative.” Joule, 3, Pp. 1-18.
  • Meng Gao, Peter Sherman, Shaojie Song, Yueyue Yu, Zhiwei Wu, and Michael B. McElroy. 2019. “Seasonal prediction of Indian wintertime aerosol pollution using the Ocean Memory Effect.” Science Advances, 5, 7.
  • Shaojie Song, Athanasios Nenes, Meng Gao, Yuzhong Zhang, Pengfei Liu, Jingyuan Shao, Dechao Ye, Weiqi Xu, Lu Lei, Yele Sun, Baoxian Liu, Shuxiao Wang, and Michael B. McElroy. 2019. “Thermodynamic modeling suggests declines in water uptake and acidity of inorganic aerosols in Beijing winter haze events during 2014/2015–2018/2019.” Environmental Science & Technology Letters, 6, Pp. 752-760.
  • Archana Dayalu, William Munger, Steven Wofsy, Yuxuan Wang, Thomas Nehrkorn, Yu Zhao, Michael McElroy, Chris Nielsen, and Kristina Luus. 2018. “Assessing biotic contributions to CO2 fluxes in northern China using the Vegetation, Photosynthesis and Respiration Model (VPRMCHINA) and observations from 2005 to 2009.” Biogeosciences, 15, Pp. 6713-6729.
  • Xinyu Chen, Junling Huang, Qing Yang, Chris P. Nielsen, Dongbo Shi, and Michael B. McElroy. 2018. “Changing carbon content of Chinese coal and implications for emissions of CO2.” Journal of Cleaner Production, 194, Pp. 150-157. 
  • Shaojie Song, Meng Gao, Weiqi Xu, Jingyuan Shao, Guoliang Shi, Shuxiao Wang, Yuxuan Wang, Yele Sun, and Michael McElroy. 2018. “Fine particle pH for Beijing winter haze as inferred from different thermodynamic equilibrium models.” Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics, 18, Pp. 7423- 7438.
  • Meng Gao, Gufran Beig, Shaojie Song, Hongliang Zhang, Jianlin Hu, Qi Ying, Fengchao Liang, Yang Liu, Haikun Wang, Xiao Lu, Tong Zhu, Gregory Carmichael, Chris P. Nielsen, and Michael B. McElroy. 2018. “The impact of power generation emissions on ambient PM2.5 pollution and human health” in China and India. Environment International, 121, Part 1, Pp. 250-259. 
  • Xinyu Chen, Zhiwei Xu, Chris P Nielsen, and Michael B. McElroy. 2018. “Impacts of fleet types and charging modes for electric vehicles on emissions under different penetrations of wind power.” Nature Energy, 3, Pp. 413-421.
  • Michael B. McElroy, Xinyu Chen, and Yawen Deng. 2018. “The missing money problem: incorporation of increased resources from wind in a representative US power market.” Renewable Energy, 126, Pp. 126-136.
  • Xinyu Chen, Jiajun Lv, Michael B. McElroy, Xingning Han, Chris Nielsen, and Jinyu Wen. 2018. “Power system capacity expansion under higher penetration of renewables considering flexibility constraints and low carbon policies.” IEEE Transactions on Power Systems.
  • Meng Gao, Yihui Ding, Shaojie Song, Xiao Lu, Xinyu Chen, and Michael B. McElroy. 2018. “Secular decrease of wind power potential in India associated with warming Indian Ocean.” Science Advances, 4, 12, Pp. 5256.
  • Xinyu Chen, Michael B. McElroy, Qiuwei Wu, Yinbiao Shu, and Yusheng Xue. 2018. “Transition towards higher penetration of renewables: an overview of interlinked technical, environmental and socio-economic challenges.” Journal of Modern Power Systems and Clean Energy.
  • Xi Lu and Michael B. McElroy. 2017. “Global potential for wind generated electricity.” In Wind Energy Engineering: A Handbook for Onshore and Offshore Wind Turbines, edited by Trevor M. Letcher. Amsterdam: Elsevier.
  • Xinyu Chen, Michael B. McElroy, and Chongqing Kang. 2017. “Integrated energy systems for higher wind penetration in China: Formulation, implementation, and impacts.” IEEE Transactions on Power Systems, 33, 2, Pp. 1309-1319.
  • Haikun Wang, Yanxu Zhang, Xi Lu, Weimo Zhu, Chris P. Nielsen, Jun Bi, and Michael B. McElroy. 2017. “Trade-driven relocation of air pollution and health impacts in China.” Nature Communications, 8, 738.
  • Michael B. McElroy and Xinyu Chen. 2017. “Wind and solar power in the United States: Status and prospects.” CSEE Journal of Power and Energy Systems, 3, 1.
  • Peter Sherman, Xinyu Chen, and Michael B. McElroy. 2017. “Wind-generated electricity in China: Decreasing potential, inter-annual variability, and association with climate change.” Scientific Reports, 7.
  • Xi Lu, Michael B. McElroy, Wei Peng, Shiyang Liu, Chris P. Nielsen, and Haikun Wang. 2016. “Challenges faced by China compared with the US in developing wind power.” Nature Energy, 1, 6. 
  • Michael B. McElroy. 2016. Energy and Climate: Vision for the Future. 1st ed. New York: Oxford University Press. Meiyu Guo, Xi Lu, Chris P. Nielsen, Michael B. McElroy, Wenrui Shi, Yuntian Chen, and Xuan Yu. 2016. “Prospects for shale gas production in China: Implications for water demand.” Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, 66, December, Pp. 742-750. 
  • Ning Zhang, Xi Lu, Chris P Nielsen, Michael B. McElroy, Xinyu Chen, Yu Deng, and Chongqing Kang. 2016. “Reducing curtailment of wind electricity in China by employing electric boilers for heat and pumped hydro for energy storage.” Applied Energy, 184, Pp. 987-994.
  • Junling Huang and Michael B. McElroy. 2015. “A 32-year perspective on the origin of wind energy in a warming climate.” Renewable Energy, 77, May, Pp. 482-492. 
  • Junling Huang and Michael B. McElroy. 2015. “Thermodynamic disequilibrium of the atmosphere in the context of global warming.” Climate Dynamics, (March).
  • Junling Huang and Michael B. McElroy. 2014. “Contributions of the Hadley and Ferrel circulations to the energetics of the atmosphere over the past 32 years.” Journal of Climate, 27, 7, Pp. 2656– 2666. 
  • Junling Huang, Xi Lu, and Michael B. McElroy. 2014. “Meteorologically defined limits to reduction in the variability of outputs from a coupled wind farm system” in the Central US. Renewable Energy, 62, February, Pp. 331–340. 
  • Xi Lu, Michael B. McElroy, Xinyu Chen, and Chongqing Kang. 2014. “Opportunity for offshore wind to reduce future demand for coal-fired power plants in China with consequent savings in emissions of CO2.” Environmental Science & Technology, 48, 24, Pp. 14764–14771. 
  • Long Wang, Shuxiao Wang, Lei Zheng, Yuxuan Wang, Yanxu Zheng, Chris P Nielsen, Michael B. McElroy, and Jiming Hao. 2014. “Source apportionment of atmospheric mercury pollution in China using the GEOS-Chem model.” Environmental Pollution, 190, July, Pp. 166-175. 
  • Xinyu Chen, Xi Lu, Michael B. McElroy, Chris P Nielsen, and Chongqing Kang. 2014. “Synergies of wind power and electrified space heating: A case study for Beijing.” Environmental Science & Technology, 48, 3, Pp. 2016–2024.
  • Xi Lu, Michael B. McElroy, Chris P Nielsen, Xinyu Chen, and Junling Huang. 2013. “Optimal integration of offshore wind power for a steadier, environmentally friendlier, supply of electricity in China.” Energy Policy, 62, Pp. 131–138.
  • Huang, J.L., and M.B. McElroy. 2012. “The contemporary and historical budget of atmospheric CO2.” Canadian Journal of Physics 90(8): 707-716.
  • Lu, X., M.B. McElroy, G. Wu, and C.P. Nielsen. 2012. “Accelerated reduction of SO2 emissions from the US power sector triggered by changing prices of natural gas.” Environmental Science and Technology 46(14): 7882-7889.
  • Lu, X., J. Salovaara, and M.B. McElroy. 2012. “Implications of the recent reductions in natural gas prices for emissions of CO2 from the US power sector.” Environmental Science and Technology 46(5): 3014–3021.
  • Wu, G., Y.M. Wei, C.P. Nielsen, X. Lu, and M.B. McElroy. 2012. “A dynamic programming model of China’s strategic petroleum reserve: General strategy and the effect of emergencies.” Energy Economics 34(4): 1234-1243. 
  • Wu, G., X. Lu, C.P. Nielsen, Y.M. Wei, and M.B. McElroy. Submitted (2012). “Optimization of China’s crude oil import strategy: An empirical analysis.” Energy Policy. 
  • Zhao, Y., C.P. Nielsen, and M.B. McElroy. 2012. “China’s CO2 emissions estimated from the bottom up: Recent trends, spatial distributions, and quantification of uncertainties.” Atmospheric Environment 59: 214-223. 
  • Zhao, Y., C.P. Nielsen, M.B. McElroy, L. Zhang, and J. Zhang. 2012. “CO emissions in China: Uncertainties and implications of improved energy efficiency and emission control.” Atmospheric Environment 49: 103-113.