U.S. Department of Commerce News - NOAA

Contact: Jana Goldman, NOAA, (301) 713-2483 and David Sims, UNH, (603) 862-5369


Federal and University Partners Launch International Experiment

Hundreds of government and university scientists from across the country and in western Europe will be sampling the quality of the air this summer in the largest air quality and climate study to date as part of the International Consortium for Atmospheric Research on Transport and Transformation. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and NASA are co-leads of the endeavor, which begins July 5 and ends in August. NOAA is an agency of the U.S. Department of Commerce.

A special focus of the sampling is a comprehensive effort to characterize air quality in the New England region, work that is a major component of ICARTT called the New England Air Quality Study. The research will help provide the solid science needed to underpin the region's future efforts to improve air quality for its citizens.

Scientists will be conducting research on all fronts - land, sea and air - to provide unprecedented information about the air as it crosses the U.S., leaves New England, traverses the Atlantic Ocean and arrives in western Europe.

A dozen different research aircraft, including the NOAA WP-3D, the NASA DC-8, the Canadian Convair 580, the French and German Falcons and the United Kingdom's Bae-146, will take to the air as the mission's "flying laboratories" to study the chemistry and meteorology of the atmosphere. Operating from the Gulf of Maine, the NOAA research vessel Ronald H. Brown will get a detailed look at the chemistry of the air as it leaves the U.S. coast and heads eastward. Ground stations throughout New England, Nova Scotia and at the Azores will further define the atmospheric picture.

"It is extremely gratifying to see the various agencies in the U.S., Canada, and Europe combining their considerable capabilities to provide new information that will help guide future environmental decisions on air quality and climate," said retired Navy Vice Adm. Conrad C. Lautenbacher, Ph.D., under secretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere and NOAA administrator. "NOAA is very pleased to lend its expertise to this international enterprise that is addressing two of the most important and complex environmental issues of our day - air quality and climate."

Other major U.S. partners in the study include National Science Foundation, U.S. Department of Energy and the University of New Hampshire. Scientists from other institutions and universities in the U.S., as well as researchers from Canada, the U.K., France and Germany, are also collaborating in the study.

"We are honored to be working so closely with NOAA on this ambitious and important study, which was initiated through the foresight of Senator Judd Gregg," said Berrien Moore III, director of the University of New Hampshire's Institute for the Study of Earth, Oceans and Space. "This type of collaborative, coordinated inquiry into the dynamics of our atmosphere is how science must move forward if we are to understand how Earth's complex, interrelated systems work and, ultimately, if we are to protect the air we breathe. In the future, society will depend upon air quality forecasts in much the same way it relies on weather forecasts."

Among the U.S. partners are Harvard University, the Department of Energy - Brookhaven National Laboratory and the California Institute of Technology. The Meteorological Service of Canada and European scientists with the Intercontinental Transport of Ozone and Precursors-North Atlantic Study campaign are also collaborating.

The New England Air Quality Study component of the larger study will also help provide the scientific understanding needed for a new air quality forecasting capability that NOAA is developing in partnership with the Environmental Protection Agency. The forecast guidance is being launched this summer in New England in conjunction with the NEAQS mission.

"The continuous, ground-based, air quality measurements from four University of New Hampshire atmospheric observatories will provide the foundation for the sampling done by NOAA's mobile platforms in the Northeast this summer," said Robert Talbot, director of UNH's Atmospheric Investigation, Regional Modeling, Analysis and Prediction program. "The combination of all these measurements will give us an unprecedented amount of data to better understand regional air quality and help launch the forecasting that NOAA plans for later this year."

NOAA and the University of New Hampshire are co-leads of the New England Air Quality Study.

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