ARL Weekly News – September 29, 2017


Dr. Ariel Stein gave an invited presentation at the NOAA Satellite Aerosol Products Workshop on September 25, 2017. He presented the talk entitled “Satellite Aerosol Products in Air Resources Laboratory’s models”. In his presentation, Dr Stein highlighted the latest developments in source term assimilation for volcano and wildfires smoke applications as well as emissions estimations for improving the forecast of ozone and PM2.5.

The annual National Air Quality Forecasting Capability (NAQFC) Forecaster Focus Group Meeting was held in NOAA College Park this week. There were air quality forecasters from 16 states and local air districts, with the Eastern US best represented. There were 5 representatives from the central and western states. It is the 13th meeting since the service of NAQFC became operational at National Weather Service in 2004. It was also well attended by the implementation and research teams of the NAQFC. ARL scientists form the NAQFC research team: Pius Lee, Daniel Tong, Li Pan and Youhua Tang attended the meeting with Pius presented a talk entitled:  “NAQFC scientific features at present and that soon-to-come”.  The forecasters felt that the NAQFC has been providing useful numerical prediction to substantiate their daily issuing of evidence- and science-based air quality forecasts. One consensus among the forecasters was that since the benefit of cleaning up of the atmosphere by the Enactment of the Clean Air Act, air quality has been improving dramatically. Bad air quality days defined as exceedance days with respect to the various US EPA ambient air quality standards were rare and sparse over the past summer. To capture exceedance days in this chemical regimes, it requires much skill and science advancement. There was emphasis on wild fire induced poor air quality. NAQFC and AIRNow websites received half of their annual hit-counts during fire-induced pollution events over the space of a fire-active week last August. Improved wildfire science and extension of the NAQFC forecast over a longer duration were the top product enhancements raised by the forecasters. (
Paul Kelly and Winston Luke traveled to the Grand Bay NERR AMNet site, in Moss Point, Mississippi, from September 25 to 29th. The purpose of the visit was to conduct quarterly maintenance, repair, and calibration activities for the trace gas detectors, mercury analyzer, wet deposition collectors, and meteorological sensors. The physical infrastructure of the site, including the fenced compound, 10 m walk up scaffold, and equipment trailer was also assessed.  The site continues to function in good working order, and has provided a continuous data stream for over 10 years now…

Alice Crawford created an era52arl program to convert the new ERA5 reanalysis from ECMWF to  ARL HYSPLIT readable format. The ERA5 dataset will eventually span the time period from 1979 onward and provides hourly meteorological data at approximately 31 km resolution globally. Currently data from 2010 onward is available. This dataset will replace the ERA-Interim reanalysis.  The era52arl program is based on the galwem2arl program and utilizes the ecCodes library  A python program,, which automates the retrieval of the ERA5 grib files for conversion to ARL format was also created. The program utilizes the ecmwfapi and simplifies the task of choosing which data fields need to be downloaded for use by HYSPLIT.

At the request of the National Weather Service, ARL modified the HYSPLIT web-based system at the Web Operations Center (WOC) to be able to send an email to specific NOAA employees and other government clients to notify them when a real event is simulated and when the weather forecast office creates a link to the products on the WOC server.  This is required so that management is aware of ongoing events that require HYSPLIT modeling support.
Fantine Ngan provided MERRA2 data (NASA global meteorological data) in ARL format to Tovi Lehmann from NIH who is working on trajectory analysis over the West Africa region during the year 2013-2015. Backward trajectories from Thierola, Mali were calculated using GDAS and MERRA2 datasets. His analysis shows both data underestimate the nocturnal lower level jet in that region. That may cause his study about the evaluation of putative source migrants to be 30% short of the actual locations. The nocturnal lower jet may be a mesoscale feature which global models in a coarse spatial and temporal resolution are not able to simulate it properly.

On 27 Sep, Temple Lee and Michael Buban met with Kelsey Ellis, an assistant professor in the geography department at the University of Tennessee, and did a weather balloon launch for her introductory course on weather and climate. The local news media was also present; a short writeup of the event can be found at

LaToya Myles was selected for the 2017 NOAA Center Champions Workshop Group award, which recognizes her sustained support of student mentorship and capacity building at the NOAA Educational Partnership Program Center for Environmental Sciences.
LaToya Myles will give a presentation at the 2017 Geological Society of America (GSA) Annual Meeting in Seattle on Oct 22-25. The presentation title is “Geoscience Opportunities for Leadership in Diversity (GOLD): Hearts of GOLD,” and co-authors are Carolyn Brinkworth (UCAR), P. Grady Dixon (Fort Hays State), Eric Kaufman (Virginia Tech), Kathy Quardokus Fisher (Florida International), and Denise Simmons (Virginia Tech).
On Thursday, Dennis Finn gave a presentation on Project Sagebrush Phase 2 to the Idaho National Laboratory’s Monitoring and Surveillance Committee. This committee includes representatives from all the organizations involved in environmental monitoring in the region around the laboratory. Dennis emphasized the unusual tracer plume behavior observed during the nighttime light-wind tests in Phase 2.
Initial drafts of the documents required to renew the interagency agreement between NOAA and the Department of Energy’s Idaho Operations Office were completed this week and sent out for comments. These documents include a Memorandum of Agreement and Statement of Work, with the latter containing details of the tasks, labor, and budget required. The agreement is up for renewal for another five years starting in January.
ERT, Inc. has hired Dr. Bai Yang to fill a contract scientist position formerly occupied by Dr. Matthew Brewer. Dr. Yang previously helped manage the AmeriFlux network and therefore has extensive experience with surface fluxes and other boundary layer observations. He also has a background in numerical modeling, including Large Eddy Simulations. His start date at FRD is 16 October.
3D Sonic Anemometers:  A storm passed through the Site and another anemometer malfunctioned.  This sensor was reset without lowering the tower.  The other in-operative sensor discussed a few weeks ago was replaced and sent in to the manufacturer for repair, refurbishment, and calibration.  In addition, static dissipaters were installed near the top of the tower to help dissipate the possible static charge field that may be a cause of the sensors failing.
SORD/NNSS Lightning Detection System:  James Wood and Walt Schalk replaced the power cable for one of the lightning detection sensors on the NNSS.  The communications devices (VDSL modems) were replaced at the DRA location. Intermittent comms issues prompted the replacement.  Both sensors are operating and communicating well.
SORD Vacancies:  An Electronics Technician applicant was selected for employment.  The paperwork and offer letter are being prepared by HR and will be sent to the applicant soon.  The first meteorologist position qualified applicant list was received and is being reviewed. The second meteorologist position qualified applicant list was received today and will be reviewed in the upcoming week.
Desert Rock Weather Observatory, NNSS (DRA) Tour:  Walt Schalk and James Wood hosted a tour of about 15 scientists each from the DOE National Laboratories.  The tour was 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 a variety of NOAA Programs (Climate Reference Network, SURFRAD, GPS Water Vapor soundings – ESRL) located in the immediate Desert Rock area were discussed.  As a finale, a Pilot Balloon (PIBAL) release was demonstrated.
DOE Meteorological Coordinating Council (DMCC): Walt Schalk prepared and distributed pre-call notes, finalized the agenda, and conducted a DOE Meteorological Coordinating Council conference call.  The call consisted of: a round robin update of program status of those on the call, a discussion on the path forward with the new DOE Order, recent DMCC activities and projects, and some information about the new EMI-SIG contractor.