ARL Weekly News – August 20, 2021

Recent Events

EPA Visit to Beltsville NADP and CASTNet Site

On Tuesday August 17, two high school interns and a staff member from US EPA’s Clean Air Market Division visited the National Atmospheric Deposition Program (NADP) and Clean Air Status and Trends Network (CASTNet) site in Beltsville, MD. Dr. Xinrong Ren provided a short presentation on atmospheric mercury measurements and modeling to the group and demonstrated some details on mercury instruments as well as how the measurements at this site suggest the decreasing trend of atmospheric mercury due to emission control measures. Dr. Ren also briefly introduced to the group ARL’s other measurement activities on air quality and greenhouse gases. A graduate student, Philip Stratton, from University of Maryland gave to the group some hands-on demonstration about how the precipitation samples are collected and chemical/meteorological parameters are measured at the site. Mr. Stratton also discussed how data collected at the network sites can provide a long-term record of precipitation chemistry across the United States.

During the site visit the students asked many questions on the measurements and demonstrated their interests in environmental science. At the end of the site tour, visits to several air quality monitoring sites in the area and the University Research Foundation’s research aircraft were discussed and will be arranged in the near future.

2021 National Soil Moisture Workshop
The National Soil Moisture Workshop convenes each year and provides a unique opportunity for scientists who either observe or use soil moisture information to share new information and exchange ideas with fellow scientists and stakeholders. This year’s virtual workshop was held from August 18-19 and was attended by ARL scientists Dr. Tilden Meyers and Dr. Howard Diamond alongside Bruce Baker, Michael Buban and Temple Lee. The goals of this year’s workshop were to:

  • Provide a highly focused venue for presenting cutting-edge research and new concepts related to soil moisture monitoring.
  • Highlight new applications of soil moisture data and identify application-oriented research needs.
  • Stimulate progress towards realizing the vision of the National Coordinated Soil Moisture Monitoring Network.

The use of soil moisture observations from NOAA’s U.S. Climate Reference Network (USCRN) was highlighted in several presentations and posters. From the keynote presentation summary, soil probes based on the newer time -domain reflectometry technology were demonstrated to be highly preferred over older capacitance-based probes. In addition, it was also noted that because of the inherent spatial variability of soil moisture, at least three observations should be taken at each of the soil levels. These recommendations have in fact already been implemented in the USCRN and in fact, this makes USCRN is the only such national network in support of soil moisture work in the U.S, and provides a true national reference standard from which other networks can be evaluated.

One presentation described how aerosol and dust plume predictions were greatly improved when USCRN soil moisture data were incorporated into the model. USCRN data are also used in the validation of satellite Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP) products over the U.S. Finally, a new study from the University of Wisconsin demonstrated how USCRN data are being used with machine learning techniques, remote sensing products and soil property inventories to generate soil moisture profile estimates. Since the inception of soil sensors in the USCRN starting in 2009, the network has been looked to as a national resource for soil moisture data that simply does not exist in any other national network. While there are other networks doing some soil moisture monitoring, the only one with a clear national standard and operating philosophy is the USCRN. Therefore, the support provided by NOAA’s National Integrated Drought Information System (NIDIS) program, that ensures that this critical soil observing capability (and related science work) continues on a sustained basis, is greatly appreciated by the national soil moisture science and user communities.

Upcoming Events

ICAMS Retreat August 24-26, 2021

Alice Crawford will take part in the Interagency Council on Advancement of Meteorological Services (ICAMS) retreat on August 24- 26, 2021. The purpose of the retreat is to bring together the ICAMS interagency community to enhance connections and collaboration and to stimulate discussions on the current and future ICAMS’ work. Alice Crawford is participating as a member of the working group on atmospheric transport and dispersion and volcanic ash and the working group on fire weather services. These working groups are under the subcommittee on atmospheric composition information and services (SC/ACIS).

FAA Special Weather Action Team Meeting.

On Friday August 27th Alice Crawford from ARL and Michael Pavolonis from NESDIS will attend a small group meeting with the FAA’s Special Weather Action Team focused on volcanic hazards to aviation from 1-2 PM. They will facilitate a discussion on volcanic ash detection and modeling for use in aviation.

Recent Publications

Observations of bay-breeze and ozone events over a marine site during the OWLETS-2 campaign has been published in Atmospheric Environment; ARL authors include Winston Luke, Xinrong Ren and Paul Kelly.