Bioaerosol research at CSD: One year of laboratory evaluations and field measurements

Speaker: Anne Perring, NOAA ESRL CSD & CU CIRES

When: Wednesday, May 28, 2014, 3:30 p.m. Mountain Time
Location: Room 2A305, DSRC (NOAA Building), 325 Broadway, Boulder
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Primary biological aerosols (bioaerosols), including airborne bacteria, fungal spores and pollen, are directly emitted from the Earth’s surface through a variety of mechanisms. They vary in size from 10s of nanometers for airborne viruses to 100 um or larger for pollen grains and leaf fragments and have been observed to account for 10-40% of supermicron aerosol in a number of environments. These particles are of increasing interest to the atmospheric community due to their potential impacts on cloud formation and properties and on precipitation. In the spring of 2013, the Chemical Sciences Division acquired a Wide-band Integrated Bioaerosol Sensor (WIBS), which detects individual bioaerosol particles based on their autofluorescent properties. Here we present preliminary laboratory evaluations as well as the results of two field studies. The first field measurements we will discuss are from a blimp study commissioned by the BBC, which flew from Florida to California over the course of a month in the fall of 2013. These represent the first airborne WIBS observations and cover an unprecedented longitudinal range, allowing us to look at regional variations in bioaerosol loadings and properties. The second set of field measurements we will discuss are from a collaborative study with Noah Fierer’s group at CU who measure airborne microbes using filter-based genomic techniques. The measurements took place for two weeks from the NOAA rooftop in June of 2013 and for ten weeks from the BAO tower in Erie. We examine seasonal variations in bioaerosol concentration and composition as well as links between observed bioaerosol and meteorology. To conclude we will discuss future plans and highlight potential avenues of interest for continued bioaerosol research at CSD.