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The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman



    The people of New England breathe some of the worst-quality air in the entirecountry, and researchers want to know why.

    In conjunction with numerous other organizations, the National Oceanic andAtmospheric Administration (NOAA) is spending the summer up there conductingintense experimentation that will hopefully answer this question.

    The ‘New England Air Quality Study’ is partially initiated by theNOAA-funded Atmospheric Investigation, Regional Modeling, Analysis and Prediction(AIRMAP) project and involves more than 20 partner institutions.

    The NOAA’#146;s largest research vessel, entitled Ronald H. Brown, is sailingthe waters of New England this summer in order to monitor the existence andmovement of air pollutants throughout the region.

    ‘This is a rare opportunity. You don’#146;t get a large research vesselsituated off the coast like this very often, because we don’#146;t tend to studyour own pollution very much,’ said Robert Talbot, Director of the AIRMAPCooperative Institute.

    The studies involve use of the latest and most accurate technologies. ‘Withthe combined capabilities of several NOAA research laboratories and our Universitycolleagues, we have assembled the most complete package of atmospheric gas andparticle sampling instrumentation ever deployed aboard Ronald H. Brown,’said Tim Bates from NOAA’#146;s Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory in Seattle.

    Along with the technologically advanced ship, Ronald H. Brown, the NOAA isalso using a G-1 Gulfstream research aircraft, operated by the U.S. Deptartmentof Energy, with instruments developed by Brookhaven National Laboratory.

    ‘The plane has the ability to sample over a broad range of distances andcan look vertically in the atmosphere so we can understand how these pollutantsare distributed in space and how they relate to the sources of these pollutants,’Brookhaven’#146;s lead investigator, Peter Daum, claims.

    The original AIRMAP project, underway for three years now, has been obtainingpollutant measurements using monitoring stations located in three differentrural positions in New Hampshire. The NOAA’#146;s new efforts offer an enhancementto these previous experiments.

    The ship and plane are mobile vehicles, which can provide a new dimension inthe studies. ‘We have been sitting in a stationary area measuring whatis coming to us,’ Talbot said of the AIRMAP project. ‘With the ship,aircraft, and additional ground instrumentation, we’#146;ll be able to go upwindand tell what is in the air coming our way.’

    Along with the mobile mediums, the NOAA’#146;s Environmental Technology Labaratoryis employing a new Doppler lidar, which uses optical radar techniques to observethe ‘sea breeze effect,’ Seven integrated wind profiler systems areplaced at various sites in New York and New England to measure wind and temperature.This will help to gauge the transport of pollution into and out of the Northeast.

    This sea breeze effect, however, cannot be monitored precisely without theuse of the new ship and plane. Accurate recordings are obtained by testing airoff the coast at different locations. The new vehicles greatly facilitate theseefforts.

    The ‘New England Air Quality Study’ is quite visible to any onlooker,with instrumentation and experiment stations set up throughout the New Hampshireseacoast region. The massive Ronald H. Brown can be seen off the coast and theplane can even be caught flying overhead.

    Various universities around the country, including UCLA and SUNY-Albany, haveeven used this experimentation as an opportunity for hands on learning.

    The research is not only beneficial for New Englanders, but for the entireUnited States. An understanding of the air transported to New England is vitalin order to obtain a better idea of air pollution elsewhere.

    By studying air movement, scientists can learn what is in the air coming fromoutside New England, including the Midwest or Mid-Atlantic States and especiallyurban areas such as Boston and New York.

    With all hopes, the information obtained during this intensive study shouldprovide a more solid course of action for quality-of-air improvement in NewEngland and possibly even the entire country. Caption: Pictured above the G-1Gulfstream research aircraft operated by the Dept. of Energy is used by theNAOO to take air quality measurements over New England.

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