Image source does not exist News Release: 2010-05-28 ARB and NOAA in $20 million research project on California’s air pollution

Release #:10-38

ARB PIO: (916) 322-2990

NOAA -Jana Goldman
Stanley Young

ARB and NOAA in $20 million research project on California’s air pollution

Next generation technology being used to understand interaction of air pollution and climate change

LOS ANGELES - The California Air Resources Board and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration are taking to land, sea and air to address the most challenging aspects of California’s air quality problem: measuring greenhouse gases and air pollutants.

The $20 million CalNex project is employing an unprecedented number of airplanes, ships and researchers to examine the nexus between air pollution and climate change.

"Combining resources with NOAA will give California new data to link our clean air and global warming protection efforts,” said ARB Chairman Mary D. Nichols. “The scale and sophistication of CalNex represents a milestone in ARB's 40-year history of groundbreaking air pollution research."

“The goal is to provide decision makers with the information they need to develop win/win strategies that address both climate and air quality,” said Director of NOAA’s Chemical Sciences Division, A.R. Ravishankara.

CalNex is the culmination of three years’ preparation and more than $20 million in funding. Started in early May continuing through most of June, the project will involve four airplanes, an ocean-going research ship, two land-based air monitoring super sites and more than 150 highly trained scientists.

The project builds upon the idea that air quality and climate change issues are linked through ‘one atmosphere,’ an approach that demands coordination and multi-tiered approaches.

Along with recent efforts to address climate change, ARB provides its leadership in air pollution studies with decades of baseline air quality data, an on-going atmospheric monitoring capacity and existing research capabilities. NOAA brings its ability to rapidly study the atmosphere over large areas of ocean and land by employing large, richly instrumented, long-range aircraft, a fully capable oceanographic vessel and their experienced scientists.

The scale of the operation is unprecedented for an atmospheric research project in California. The project is employing:

NOAA’s contribution of hardware and expertise is estimated at $15 million. California is contributing $5 million, as well as the expertise of their meteorological, modeling, monitoring and research staff. Researchers from all over the United States and Europe will also be on the teams collecting data.

The data collected will give scientists a better understanding of atmospheric-chemical transformations, climate processes, transport and meteorology. This will improve ARB’s methodologies for measuring greenhouse gases, traditional air pollutants and their precursors. In addition, the study will improve ARB’s understanding of the atmospheric formation of ground-level ozone and PM that will improve air-quality models which in turn enables ARB to develop more effective control strategies.

Specific Benefits of CalNex California

Refining methods for determining greenhouse gas and air-pollutant emissions: The teams will look to interpret ambient CO2 measurements to provide feedback to the emissions inventory. They are able to avoid complications from background concentrations, multiplicity of sources and the absorption and release of CO2 by the biosphere. The use of aircrafts’ spatial coverage and resolution will provide valuable information on CO2 and other gases. Such data can be used to analyze emission trends, and develop methods to evaluate the effectiveness and potential of carbon sequestration, including natural, agricultural and forestry methods.

Improvement of Air Quality Modeling:

ARB depends on air quality models to prepare strategies for reducing air pollution and complying with federal clean air standards. The State Implementation Plan is the compendium of strategies that must be submitted to the federal government. CalNex can provide key data that will benefit the state’s air quality models with three-dimensional, complementary measurements collected by the aircrafts, ship and ground sites. Each aircraft is not only a mobile monitoring platform and vertical profiler, but also a “supersite” with an extensive complement of technology that can characterize collected gas and particle chemicals. The quality of instrumentation and the advantages of range, speed and vertical profiling that an aircraft can accommodate will provide highly valuable information to refine air-quality models and ensure that upcoming SIPs are based on the best science.

Mobile Platforms

P-3 Aircraft – The P-3 carries three and half tons of scientific equipment that takes measurements of gaseous and aerosol species as quickly as every second. Its range of 1300 km allows it to cover the entire state as well as out to sea.

Twin Otter – Air pollution is a three-dimensional problem and yet measurements of the vertical distribution of pollutants such as ozone are rare. This aircraft will provide vertical sampling of ozone and other pollutants.

CIRPAS Twin Otter – This aircraft will concentrate on the composition and physical and optical properties of aerosols. The data collected will help in understanding aerosol changes in the atmosphere which affect both health and climate.

Atlantis - The Atlantis is a heavily-instrumented ocean-going vessel that can examine emissions and chemical process off California’s coast. This will improve ARB’s air quality modeling and estimation of the impacts of shipping on the state’s air quality.

Air Monitoring Supersites
Caltech Supersite

Over 40 research groups are collecting data at the California Institute of Technology site. The numerous gaseous and aerosol measurements will improve our understanding of how particles form and change in the atmosphere and how nighttime chemical processes occur and impact pollution formation.

San Joaquin Valley Supersite

A second air monitoring supersite is located on the University of California, Agricultural Extension site south of Bakersfield, in Arvin. This southern San Joaquin Valley area has not shown the reductions in ambient ozone of other localities in the state. More than 10 research groups will collect volatile organic compound and nitrogen species data collected at a ground site near Bakersfield.

ARB's mission is to promote and protect public health, welfare, and ecological resources through effective reduction of air pollutants while recognizing and considering effects on the economy. The ARB oversees all air pollution control efforts in California to attain and maintain health based air quality standards.