Air Resources Laboratory – Scientific Publication Highlights

23% of particulate air pollution in 2020 attributed to wildfires

October 21, 20221
Emissions from 2020’s record-breaking wildfires that raged across the western U.S. contributed 23% of surface fine particulate matter pollution across the contiguous states that season, a new study found. Wildfires were the primary contributor to exceedances of National Ambient Air Quality Standards during that summer, highlighting the risk they pose to human health.

Li, Y., Tong, D., Ma, S., Zhang, X., Kundragunta, S., Li, F., & Saylor, R. (2021). Dominance of Wildfires Impact on Air Quality Exceedances during the 2020 Record-Breaking Wildfire Season in the United States. Geophysical Research Letters, 48, e2021GL094908.

Remote Work Policies Contribute to a “New Normal” in Air Quality.

Oct 12, 2021

In the spring of 2020, COVID-19-related restrictions in the United States led to reductions in nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions because of the sudden drop in road traffic. But even after restrictions were lifted and the flow of traffic resumed, NOx emissions from transportation remained around 20% lower than pre-COVID-19 averages in some cities through the end of 2020. (EOS Press Release)

Kondragunta, S., Wei, Z., McDonald, B. C., Goldberg, D. L., & Tong, D. Q. (2021). COVID-19 induced fingerprints of a new normal urban air quality in the United States. Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres, 126, e2021JD034797.


State of the Climate in 2020 is available

August 25, 2021

Greenhouse gases and global sea levels both reached record highs in 2020—as the planet sweltered in a near-record warm year—according to the 31st annual State of the Climate report.

The 2020 edition of the annual State of the Climate Report was published and released on August 25, 2021. The report, compiled by NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information, is based on contributions from scientists from around the world. It provides a detailed update on global climate indicators, notable weather events, and other data collected by environmental monitoring stations and instruments located on land, water, ice, and in space. This is the 31st issuance of the annual assessment now known as State of the Climate, published in the Bulletin since 1996. As a supplement to the Bulletin, its foremost function is to document the status and trajectory of many components of the climate system. However, as a series, the report also documents the status and trajectory of our capacity and commitment to observe the climate system.

ARL’s Dr. Howard Diamond served as the Lead Editor for the Tropics Chapter, and this issue marked his 15th year in that role, and his plan is to do this for his 16th edition for the 2021 report. The Tropics Chapter can be found at, and the full report can be found at


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.


Prior Year Journal Articles and Books

Beginning with 2008, the publication list is for the Calendar Year. Prior years are Fiscal Year.

*2007 includes end of calendar year publications.

All lists are in Portable Document Format (PDF)