ASMD’s OWLETS Team Members Honored with Prestigious NASA Group Achievement Award

October 2019

Barry Baker, Mark Cohen, Paul Kelley, Pius Lee, Chris Loughner, Winston Luke, and Xinrong Ren were recently honored with NASA’s prestigious Group Achievement Award for their work as members of the Ozone Water-Land Environmental Transition Study (OWLETS) team. Co-Principal Investigator Tim Berkoff of NASA’s Langley Research Center accepted a plaque on behalf of the entire team during the center’s 2019 Honor Awards Ceremony on September 17, after which each individual team member received a certificate. Signed by NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine, the certificates read: “For designing and executing an unprecedented scientific investigation in the upper and lower Chesapeake Bay to understand the ozone pollution at the land-water interface.” While none of ARL’s recipients made the long journey to Hampton, Virginia for the event, all were invited to attend along with family and friends.

About NASA’s Group Achievement Award: 
As one of NASA’s honor awards, nominations for Group Achievement Awards require approval by multiple review boards, NASA Center Director(s) and, ultimately, approval by the NASA Administrator. This award is presented to teams of government and/or non-government individuals for an outstanding group accomplishment that substantially contributed to NASA’s mission. Nominations must meet at least three of six criteria to be considered for the award: quality of results/program or operational impact; effective cost/schedule management; customer satisfaction; team growth and capacity for future contribution; development of innovative approaches, utilizing/contributing to lessons learned; and successfully responding to unforeseen crises.

About OWLETS: 
The OWLETS field study took place in the Southern Chesapeake Bay near Hampton Roads, Virginia, in the summer of 2017. OWLETS-2 focused on the Northern Chesapeake Bay near the Greater Baltimore metropolitan area in the summer of 2018. During both campaigns the team, comprised of a number of federal and state agency and university partners, collected measurements via sensors on a vast range of platforms in an effort to understand the behavior of ozone and related air pollutants across the water-land transition zone in the lower and upper portion of the Chesapeake Bay.

The scientists at NOAA’s Air Resources Laboratory played multiple crucial roles in the OWLETS campaigns, with the modeling group supporting both studies and the measurements group joining to enhance OWLETS-2. Dr. Cohen developed forecast products for the Baltimore-Washington region to inform flight planning of research aircraft, deployment of mobile sampling platforms (boats, automobiles), and preparation of special sampling programs at ground sites (e.g., ozonesonde launches, etc.). Cohen produced a 48-page forecast product four times per day using a combination of NOAA’s North American Mesoscale Forecast System four kilometer resolution, 48-hour forecast and ARL’s HYSPLIT model. Drs. Baker, Lee, and Tang disseminated subsets of NOAA’s 48-hour operational air quality forecast to campaign leadership. Generated by the ARL-developed National Air Quality Forecasting Capability (NAQFC), the outputs were tailored, three-dimensional visual air composition perspectives designed to highlight the complexity of atmospheric thermal stratification over marine waters, to enable informed decision making regarding equipment deployment.

Dr. Ren was involved in research flights over Baltimore, the upper portion of the Chesapeake Bay, and the Eastern Shore to characterize horizontal and vertical gradients of ozone and its precursors. Mr. Kelley and Drs. Luke and Ren deployed in situ trace gas instrumentation at a monitoring site on the Hart-Miller Island, approximately 10 miles east of Baltimore’s Inner Harbor, and performed weekly maintenance to ensure the quality of the data collected. After the field deployment, Dr. Loughner performed high resolution meteorological model simulations, running the Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) model down to a resolution of one kilometer. His analysis of a bay breeze event, for example, was performed utilizing a combination of outputs from the WRF and HYSPLIT models, along with observations from a wind profiler, lidar at Hart-Miller Island, and ceilometers located throughout the study area.

The seven recipients standing in a semi-circle in front of a display with the NOAA logo and program photos.
ARL ASMD's OWLETS team members. From left to right: Baker, Loughner, Cohen, Luke, Kelley, Ren, and Lee. Credit: NOAA
Scanned certificate complete with gold NASA seal and Administrator Bridenstine's signature. OWLETS and Barry Baker also appear on the certificate.
Scan of Dr. Baker's award. All team members received their own certificate honoring their achievement.
OWLETS logo. OWL have shades of blue simulating water and ETS have shades of green simulating grass/vegetation. Graphic of an owl (black with red eyes) overlaps the mid-point of the W. Acronym is spelled in full beneath, with the OWL and ETS color-coded to match above.
Credit: NASA