Air Resources Laboratory – Scientific Publication Highlights

Sensitivity of total column NO2 at a marine site within the Chesapeake Bay during OWLETS-2

May 15, 2022

In coastal environments like the Chesapeake Bay, the presence of the sea/bay breeze circulation can contribute to poor air quality and makes modeling the meteorological and chemical impacts of the sea/bay breeze in air quality forecast models a challenge. The Ozone Water-Land Environmental Transition Study 2 field campaign aimed to better quantify the mechanisms affecting surface, profile, and columnar trace gas amounts between the land and water.
Alexander Kotsakis, John T. Sullivan, Thomas F. Hanisco, Robert J. Swap, Vanessa Caicedo, Timothy A. Berkoff, Guillaume Gronoff, Christopher P. Loughner, Xinrong Ren, Winston T. Luke, Paul Kelley, Phillip R. Stratton, Ruben Delgado, Nader Abuhassan, Lena Shalaby, Fernando C. Santos, Joel Dreessen, Sensitivity of total column NO2 at a marine site within the Chesapeake Bay during OWLETS-2, Atmospheric Environment, 277, 2022, 119063,

Microplastics and nanoplastics in the marine-atmosphere environment

May 10, 2022
In a Nature Reviews article, working groups from the Joint Group of Experts on Scientific Aspects of Marine Environmental Protection, GESAMP, reports on ways to understand where microplastics originate, how quickly they are transported and where they may end up. A number of processes that transport microplastics are not well understood, such as: how are they captured in sea spray or condensed water; how do they interact with other chemicals in the atmosphere; and what happens as they degrade?

D. Allen, S. Allen, T. Jickells, S. Abbasi, A. Baker, M. Bergmann, J. Brahney, T. Butler, M. Dusan, S. Eckhart, M. Kanakidou, P. Laj, J. Levermore, D. Li, P. Liss, K. Liu, N. Majowald, P. Masque, A. Mayes, P. McGinnity, I. Osvath, K.A. Prather, J.M. Prospero, L.E. Revell, S.G. Sander, W.J. Shim, J. Slade, A.F. Stein, O. Tarasova, S. Wright, The Atmospheric Cycle of Microplastics in the Marine Environment Nature Reviews Earth & Environment (2022), 10.1038/s43017-022-00292-x

Development and evaluation of an advanced National Air Quality Forecasting Capability using the NOAA Global Forecast System version 16

April 21, 2022

Development and implementation of the NACC-CMAQ model is an important step to (i) advance the NAQFC closer to the state of the science for regional air quality forecasting, (ii) improve community applications of NOAA’s FV3GFS-driven atmospheric composition models, and (iii) facilitate the future development of regional high-resolution inline air quality forecasting systems within the UFS framework at NOAA.
Campbell, P. C., Tang, Y., Lee, P., Baker, B., Tong, D., Saylor, R., Stein, A., Huang, J., Huang, H.-C., Strobach, E., McQueen, J., Pan, L., Stajner, I., Sims, J., Tirado-Delgado, J., Jung, Y., Yang, F., Spero, T. L., and Gilliam, R. C.: Development and evaluation of an advanced National Air Quality Forecasting Capability using the NOAA Global Forecast System version 16, Geosci. Model Dev., 15, 3281–3313,, 2022.

23% of particulate air pollution in 2020 attributed to wildfires

October 21, 2021
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.

Connecting Land–Atmosphere Interactions to Surface Heterogeneity in CHEESEHEAD19

Feb 1, 2021

The Chequamegon Heterogeneous Ecosystem Energy-Balance Study Enabled by a High-Density Extensive Array of Detectors 2019 (CHEESEHEAD19) is an ongoing National Science Foundation project based on an intensive field campaign that occurred from June to October 2019. The purpose of the study is to examine how the atmospheric boundary layer (ABL) responds to spatial heterogeneity in surface energy fluxes. One of the main objectives is to test whether lack of energy balance closure measured by eddy covariance (EC) towers is related to mesoscale atmospheric processes. Finally, the project evaluates data-driven methods for scaling surface energy fluxes, with the aim to improve model–data comparison and integration. To address these questions, an extensive suite of ground, tower, profiling, and airborne instrumentation was deployed over a 10 km × 10 km domain of a heterogeneous forest ecosystem in the Chequamegon–Nicolet National Forest in northern Wisconsin, United States, centered on an existing 447-m tower that anchors an AmeriFlux/NOAA supersite (US-PFa/WLEF). The project deployed one of the world’s highest-density networks of above-canopy EC measurements of surface energy fluxes. This tower EC network was coupled with spatial measurements of EC fluxes from aircraft; maps of leaf and canopy properties derived from airborne spectroscopy, ground-based measurements of plant productivity, phenology, and physiology; and atmospheric profiles of wind, water vapor, and temperature using radar, sodar, lidar, microwave radiometers, infrared interferometers, and radiosondes. These observations are being used with large-eddy simulation and scaling experiments to better understand submesoscale processes and improve formulations of subgrid-scale processes in numerical weather and climate models.

Butterworth, Brian J., et al:. “Connecting Land–Atmosphere Interactions to Surface Heterogeneity in CHEESEHEAD19”, Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society 102, 2 (2021): E421-E445, accessed Jan 11, 2022,