Intercontinental Transport and Chemical Transformation of Anthropogenic Pollution

A Research Activity in Global Change within NOAA
and the framework of the International Global Atmospheric Chemistry Program (IGAC)

ITCT header graphic of a two-dimensional map of the earth with arrows pointing left to right signifying the intercontinental transport path

New perspectives on the "global" nature of Earth's atmosphere.
Research has shown that it is, indeed, "one atmosphere" that envelopes and supports life on Earth. Over the past two decades, studies of the global dissemination of manmade pollution have centered on the emissions of long-lived gases and particles that influence global and regional climate. More recently, a new focus is emerging that recognizes that the chemical properties of shorter-lived manmade pollutants can have intercontinental and global influence.

Intercontinental Transport and Chemical Transformation (ITCT)
How does the transport of chemicals from one continent influence the air quality in other continents, as well as regional and global climate?

ITCT is a coordinated international research program to address this question. Its foci are:

  • to investigate intercontinental transport of manmade pollution, with an emphasis on ozone, fine particles, and other chemically active "greenhouse" compounds; and
  • to determine the chemical transformation that occurs during this transport.

There is increasing evidence that ozone and fine particles and their precursors, even compounds with reasonably short lifetimes, can be detected at great distances from their sources. The "intercontinental" nature of manmade chemical pollution has been demonstrated in studies over the last decade. ITCT will further the scientific understanding of the consequences – both for air quality and for climate – of this intercontinental transport and transformation.

Investigations will initially focus on the Northern Hemisphere, which contains most of the world's landmasses, population, and anthropogenic pollution emission sources.

The International and NOAA Frameworks for ITCT
ITCT is an activity designed to address several of the science questions posed in the science plan of the International Global Atmospheric Chemistry (IGAC) program, which is a Core Project of the International Geosphere-Biosphere Programme (IGBP). ITCT continues the research of two earlier IGAC activities: the North Atlantic Regional Experiment (NARE) and the East Asian/North Pacific Regional Experiment (APARE).

Within the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), ITCT constituted the major FY 2001 emphasis of the Atmospheric Chemistry Project of NOAA's Climate and Global Change Program. Research efforts involving ITCT continued with NEAQS - ITCT 2004. Information regarding possible grant support is available through the NOAA Office of Global Programs.

NOAA's Atmospheric Research Campaign - Combining Climate Change and Air Quality Research