ESRL Quarterly Newsletter - Summer 2010

CalNex Completed

Mission probes nexus of air quality and climate change in California

The CalNex mission, led by ESRL’s Chemical Sciences Division, CSD, began winding down June, after three months of work to assess air quality and climate in California. Hundreds of researchers from across ESRL and NOAA, NASA, the state of California, academia, and international institutions took to the land, sea, and air to measure and track greenhouse gases and air pollutants. The scale of the mission was unprecedented for an atmospheric research project in California. CalNex involved four instrumented aircraft; the research vessel Atlantis; and two ground sites in Pasadena and Bakersfield. CalNex also included six-day-a-week ozonesonde releases from six sites across California, and atmospheric data from more than a dozen radar wind profilers, two tall towers, and more than 100 state air quality sites. 

The mission was a great success, said David Parrish (CSD). A quick look at the data shows that the scientists were able to capture simultaneous measurements of air quality and greenhouse gases emitted from California’s agricultural region—including during agricultural burning events. Nighttime chemistry measurements should let scientists significantly improve understanding of air quality in the Los Angeles region, Parrish said, and CalNex captured detailed information on the transport of some pollutants, particularly ozone, into, within, and out of California. 

Image of Los Angeles courtesy of Dan Lack, CIRES/NOAA