Recent ARL News

New Dust Forecast Model Excels in Predicting Recent Dust Storms

December 20, 2021

NOAA’s Storm Prediction Center highlighted the record breaking severity of the severe winds on Dec 15. Image Credit: NOAA.

December 2021 saw some regions of the US experiencing record breaking weather patterns with deadly tornados and damaging winds. An Extreme Wind Event on December 14-16, 2021 brought winds up to 100 mph to parts of southern Colorado towns such as Pueblo and Manitou Springs. The strong jet moving across the region combined with mountain wave action produced widespread extreme winds over much of southern Colorado. Intense dust storms, sometimes called a haboob, raced across the dry plains in Colorado and Kansas to produce widespread blowing dust over much of the region.

This past July, NOAA Air Resources Laboratory (ARL) and partners provided significant updates to the Air Quality Model that NOAA’s National Weather Service (NWS) uses to provide air quality forecast guidance across the US. Under the revised National Air Quality Forecasting Capability (NAQFC), the NWS forecasts for air quality now provide 72 hours of guidance on ozone, smoke, dust and fine particulate matter (PM2.5) in the air we breathe. Included with that update was a revised dust model, called FENGSHA ; FENGSHA is an English analog of the Mandarin term for wind-blown dust.

ARL Research Presented at AGU 2021 Fall Meeting

December 7, 2021

The Fall AGU 2021 meeting in New Orleans will host over 25,000 attendees in the geophysics community to share their work and ideas and discuss solutions to the largest challenges facing our planetResearchers from NOAA’s Air Resources Laboratory will present results of their research in a range of disciplines, from GeoHealth to Hydrology.

2021 NOAA Administrator Awards Recognize ARL Efforts in Atmospheric Research

October 29, 2021

Several ARL projects and accomplishments were recognized in the NOAA Administrator’s awards during a ceremony on October 27, 2021, including two bronze medals. The highest honor award granted by the NOAA Administrator, the Department of Commerce Bronze Medal recognizes federal employees for superior performance and is awarded to individuals, groups (or teams), and organizations.

Atmospheric Mercury Monitoring Installation Completed at Barrow Observatory

October 18, 2021
Short daylight hours greeted Paul Kelley and Winston Luke of NOAA’s Air Resources Laboratory as they traveled to Utqiaġvik (formerly Barrow) in Alaska.  Their visit to install a Tekran® mercury speciation system at NOAA’s Barrow Atmospheric Baseline Observatory was overdue, having been previously postponed by COVID travel restrictions. NOAA’s baseline observatories are administered by the Earth System Research Laboratories’ (ESRL) Global Monitoring Laboratory in Boulder, CO and are located in remote regions of the globe to measure the chemical composition of the background atmosphere.


2020’s Economic Slowdown Provides Opportunity to Investigate Ozone Pollution in the U.S.

September 16, 2021

At NOAA’s Air Resources Laboratory (ARL) in College Park, Maryland, atmospheric researchers were eager to study the impacts of reduced automobile traffic on the atmosphere.

The inlet of the mercury monitoring system is visible on the railing of the roof platform at the Barrow Atmospheric Baseline Observatory.
Normally traffic clogged at rush hour, First Avenue in New York is empty due to lockdown restrictions on March 27, 2020. Image Credit: edenpictures

2021 ARL News

HYSPLIT Migrates to the Cloud

July 26, 2021

HYSPLIT was successfully moved to a cloud based hosting platform run by NOAA’s Web Operations Center at 10:16am on July 15, 2021, once testing was complete. This migration enables the NWS to have HYSPLIT access on an operational platform for 24/7/365 hosting and maintenance by reducing the probability of equipment failures.

NOAA Upgrades Key Air Quality Prediction Model

Nationwide air quality forecast maps indicate areas of concern for poor air quality.

July 21, 2021

Air quality forecasts not only offer longer term guidance – 72 hours – but also improve ozone forecasting

NOAA’s Air Resources Laboratory (ARL) has delivered significant updates to the Air Quality Model that NOAA’s National Weather Service uses to deliver air quality forecast guidance. NOAA’s partnership with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issues daily air quality forecast guidance as part of a National Air Quality Forecasting Capability. These forecasts include information such as the levels of ozone (O3), smoke, dust and fine particulate matter (PM2.5) in the air we breathe.


Which Way Does the Wind Blow?

The ASH team continues to monitor their in-flight balloon satellite. On the 130th mission day, the K4UAH-6 balloon travelled through Greenland on July 16, 2021. Due to the large high and low pressure systems that are positioned over Greenland and the Norwegian Sea, early HYSPLIT-calculated trajectories show many possible trajectories over the next coming days. The difference in trajectories are due to projected uncertainties in the meteorological forecast for the region.

July 21, 2021

With all due respect to Bob Dylan, atmospheric transport forecasting can be difficult.  When ARL intern Todd McKinney sat down to analyze his University’s super high pressure balloon satellite, K4UAH-6, as it was about to make a pass over Greenland, the high pressure cells gave a wide range of results.


Chemtool Plant Fire Response Informed by HYSPLIT

June 21, 2021

A massive chemical fire started on Monday, June 12, 2021 at the Chemtool plant in Rockton, Illinois. The nature of the chemical fire and the presence of nearby waterways have made fire suppression a challenge, with emergency response lasting for days. Over 45 different fire departments have responded to the event so far, aided by NOAA WFO, the EPA and a variety of Illinois state agencies and the National Guard. Smoke plumes were so large that they were visible from GOES 15, as well as on weather radars.

US Drought Portal Includes USCRN Data

June 17, 2021

Soil moisture data from the NOAA Air Resources Laboratory’s (ARL) US Climate Reference Network (USCRN) is now publicly available through the redesigned U.S. Drought Portal. The portal,, which is hosted by NOAA’s National Integrated Drought Information System (NIDIS), was re-launched under a revised National Coordinated Soil Moisture Monitoring Network. The new network was designed to integrate soil moisture data from sources across federal and state in-situ networks, such as USCRN; remote sensing data; and other modeling capabilities.

HYSPLIT Goes Aloft

June 15, 2021

Todd McKinney, a rising senior at the University of Alabama, Huntsville (UAH), was a natural choice to intern at ARL this summer. Todd celebrated his first week by taking HYSPLIT on a selfie stick balloon ride to 30000 meters, the lower reach of the stratosphere.

Lightning Produces Molecules that Clean Greenhouse Gases from the Atmosphere

This huge thunderstorm supercell was photographed from NASA’s DC-8 airborne science laboratory as it flew at an altitude of 40,000 feet southwest of Oklahoma City, Ok., during a DC3 mission flight May 19. The flight crew estimated the top of the thunderhead’s anvil extended above 45,000 feet altitude. (NASA / Frank Cutler)

May 19, 2021

Lightning produces molecules that can “clean” the atmosphere, according to research published this month in Science (Brune et al., 2021) and authored by a number of NOAA research scientists. The research demonstrates not only that lightning produces hydroxyl (OH) and hydroperoxyl (HO2), but also produces amounts much greater than expected due to weaker, subvisible electrical discharges. Researchers knew that lightning creates ions and new molecules including OH and HO2, but the amounts observed in this experiment were up to 1000 times what researchers had previously observed in the troposphere.

ARL Scientists Profiled for Women’s History Month

March 31, 2021

NOAA’s Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research profiled two scientists at Air Resources Laboratory’s Atmospheric Turbulence and Diffusion Division in Oak Ridge, Tennessee were profiled by for Women’s History Month.

March 1, 2021

HYSPLIT Use in February for Emergency Management

Several NOAA Weather Forecast Offices (WFO) used the ARL developed HYSPLIT tool for a wide range of emergency management situations in February 2021.

February 16, 2021

Dr. LaToya Myles Appointed Director of ARL’s ATDD

LaToya Myles, Ph.D. is now the permanent Director of and Supervisory Scientist of the Atmospheric Turbulence and Diffusion Division (ATDD) of NOAA’s Air Resources Laboratory.

January 21, 2021

2020 HYSPLIT Accomplishments and Notable Use Cases

The ARL developed HYSPLIT tool for atmospheric transport and dispersion modeling hosted over 2 million runs in 2020.

January 7, 2021

ARL Researchers Head to AMS Meeting

The American Meteorological Society (AMS) will host its 101st annual conference virtually from January 10-15, 2021. A number of ARL researchers contributed papers on topics ranging from climate observations to boundary layer and atmospheric chemistry and dispersion.