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Research: Atmospheric Chemistry and Deposition
Pollutants released into the air can impact air quality, as well as terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems when the pollutants deposit to Earth. The Nation spends tens of billions of dollars each year to reduce air pollution in order to protect human health and the environment. Effective targeting of air pollution controls depends on having good scientific understanding of which sources, which pollutants, and which regions are contributing to the problems.
ARL conducts a world-class research program that provides information and products that directly support air quality decision-makers, air quality forecasters, and the research community. Specifically, we focus on improving measurements and monitoring the exchange of pollutants between the air and the Earth's surface and on developing and applying the next generation of forecasting and assessment tools.
ARL scientist installing instruments to measure ammonia-nitrogen concentrations in a barn populated by Angus beef cattle. Ammonia emissions from animal waste can contribute to formation of particulate matter in the air and, through atmospheric deposition processes, contribute to excessive nitrogen (a nutrient) loadings to terrestrial and aquatic environments. Photo: NOAA
What We Do
Air-Surface Exchange of Pollutants
Acid Rain and Nitrogen Fertilization
The HYSPLIT-Hg model starts with a mercury emissions inventory; then utilizes meteorological data to estimate the atmospheric dispersion of mercury from each source. Chemical reactions in the air, phase- partitioning of the mercury, and wet and dry deposition are then simulated by the model. A key feature of HYSPLIT-Hg is that it can estimate the overall atmospheric concentrations and deposition arising from mercury emissions and at the same time keep track of the individual contributions of each source to the overall totals.
Air Quality Forecast Products
ARL scientists evaluate and improve air quality models used by NOAA's National Weather Service (NWS) to operationally predict concentrations of O3 and PM2.5. ARL performs rigorous comparisons of model predictions with actual atmospheric measurements. Based on the knowledge gained from these evaluations, ARL adds or enhances specific model processes or input data sets to better represent emissions of air pollutants and the physical and chemical complexities that occur in the atmosphere. The continuous model evaluation and improvement cycle conducted by ARL scientists leads to better NWS operational air quality forecast products. This work supports air quality planners and managers, air quality forecasters, and the research community.
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