ARL Weekly News – October 19, 2018

Pius Lee attended an annual Interagency Monitoring of Protected Visual Environment (IMPROVE) Network Steering Committee Meeting in Fort Collins, Colorado, October 16-17. IMPROVE is one of the longest running surface speciated particulate matter monitoring network that had its first every third day continuous speciated aerosol mass sample taken in 1988. IMPROVE is largely led and funded by the U.S. EPA. NOAA ARL had a strong leadership in its capability development and societal application. ARL’s Marc Pitchford had been its Steering Committee’s chairman between 1985 and 2011. Dr. Rick Saylor had contributed to the network as one of the Steering Committee members between 2012 and 2017. The so-called “IMPROVE Equation” is an empirical formula determining the visibility impairment of an aerosol impregnated air-parcel. The equation is based on a mass reconstruction method. It assumes the absorption of light of an inorganic constituent in an externally mixed aerosol is proportional to the constituent’s mass. This year Dr. Saylor retires from that capacity and Dr. Ariel Stein nominated Pius to continue ARL’s committee membership presence and contribute to the expertise and advancement of the network.

Barry Baker, Tianfeng Chai, Hyun Cheol Kim, Pius Lee, Youhua Tang, and Daniel Tong will attend and present at the 17th Annual Community Modeling and Analysis System (CMAS) Conference in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, October 22-24. This event connects members of the atmospheric modeling and model research communities, encouraging shared experiences with air quality models, modeling, and model development. For more information, please visit:

Winston Luke will travel to Boulder, Colorado from October 23-26 to attend a planning meeting regarding field campaign activities for the 2019 field intensive for the Fire Influence on Regional and Global Environments and Air Quality Experiment (FIREX-AQ). FIREX-AQ is a NOAA / NASA interagency intensive study of the atmospheric effects of wildland and agricultural fires in the U.S. during the 2019 wildfire season. The field intensive will deploy NOAA and NASA aircraft, as well as a number of fixed and mobile ground-based sampling platforms. NOAA ARL intends to deploy instrumentation to measure concentrations of speciated, total, and gaseous elemental mercury, as well as other primary and secondary trace gases to better understand the chemistry, magnitude, and variability of mercury emissions from natural and controlled-burn fires.

FRD has been talking with DOE laboratories and SORD about the possibility of conducting tracer studies in complex terrain at the Nevada Nuclear Security Site. There is an interest in releasing multiple tracers simultaneously, which has led the division to reevaluate its previous work using perfluorocarbon tracers. The perfluorocarbons can be detected using the same gas chromatography and electron capture detection approaches as sulfur hexafluoride (SF6), but the analysis methods are significantly slower and more complex. Unlike SF6, the perfluorocarbons come out of the columns after oxygen, requiring a more complicated valve arrangement and slowing down the analysis of each bag sample. FRD is investigating whether the perfluorocarbon analysis procedure can be made more efficient.

The division is also acquiring samples of the hydrofluoroolefin gases that are being used as forth-generation refrigerants. These gases have low global warming potentials, and there has been some success at NOAA’s Earth System Research Laboratory in detecting them at low concentrations. If the analysis procedures for these gases are not much more complicated than the perfluorocarbons, they may be a better option. The perfluorocarbons come as liquids and therefore require a more complicated release mechanism, whereas the hydrofluoroolefins are gases that can be released like SF6.

Walt Schalk and James Wood gave a tour to about 15 to 20 people consisting of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory scientists and DoD representatives on Tuesday, 10/16. The tours were a part of the Federal Expertise Training program hosted by NNSA. The tour took place at the Desert Rock Weather Observatory at the Nevada National Security Site. A verbal history of the SORD program and support of the testing program was given. SORD’s current activities were also presented. The numerous instrumented sites that SORD maintains for NNSS Programs (SODAR, mesonet and lightning detection network) and hosts for NOAA Programs (Climate Reference Network, SURFRAD) located in the immediate Desert Rock area were discussed. As a finale, a Pilot Balloon (PIBAL) release was demonstrated.

Semi-annual mesonet station calibrations and checks were completed. (22 10 meter towers, SODAR, lightning detection system, precipitation network)

The Electronics and Meteorological Technicians installed a new mesonet tower and base plate. This station will provide representative data for an area of higher terrain in the northwest NNSS mesas, useful to SORD Meteorologists for forecasting and fire weather support.

LaToya Myles gave an invited talk for the UT Department of Geography Colloquium Series on Oct 18. She provided an overview of ATDD’s research and shared results from ammonia exchange studies.