15 April 2020
Chemical Sciences Laboratory scientist Dr. Carsten Warneke receives a CIRES Outstanding Performance Award in the Science and Engineering category for his outstanding leadership, in planning and executing the FIREX-AQ study. This award recognizes Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences (CIRES) employees who have uncommon initiative, resourcefulness, and/or scientific creativity conducting research with potential to expand or change the direction of a particular field or discipline. It also recognizes participation in collaborative and/or multidisciplinary research that engages a broader cross-section than the researcher's typical scientific or engineering community.
Over the last five years, Carsten has made enormous contributions to CIRES and NOAA as a leader in the large-scale field mission Fire Influence on Regional to Global Environments and Air Quality (FIREX-AQ), and the research-focused activities that preceded it. Dr. Warneke played an outsized role in every aspect of this campaign, including flying as Mission Scientist on the NASA DC-8 flying laboratory, initiating and leading laboratory studies to inform the science of the field campaign, providing interviews, developing flight plans, making logistical decisions, and coordinating the disparate scientific communities that were all critical to overall mission success.
Carsten played a critical role throughout the development, execution, and on-going analysis phases of FIREX-AQ. He was outstanding as the primary CIRES representative for the mission and its science, in television and print interviews, and behind the scenes in initiating and guiding the effort through all its phases. His leadership throughout the early days of this effort directly led to the wide collaborations that strongly strengthened and widened FIREX-AQ's reach. In addition to these high-level efforts to engage the larger community interested in advancing the science of fire impacts on the atmosphere, Carsten was intimately involved with leading and performing the day-to-day tasks that are so necessary to achieving successful interactions with communities outside of NOAA and CIRES.
Carsten also recognized crucial gaps from previous efforts to characterize smoke impacts on the atmosphere. He identified an insufficient connection between the fuels-community and the atmospheric chemistry community and worked to strengthen this connection and the science it promised. This awareness is what led to coordinated sampling of prescribed burns during FIREX-AQ, including a number of grassland fires, and a major prescribed burn in the Blackwater River State Park in Florida, which revealed ozone production chemistry occurring very efficiently in a region with high population density and enormous sensitivity to air quality degradation.
Overall, his efforts in meeting many challenges led to an extensive and deep data set from FIREX-AQ that is unprecedented in fire science, and will result in advancing fire science nationally and around the globe. His personal contributions are directly relatable to specific high-value elements of the deployment that form the majority of FIREX-AQ's most innovative features. Carsten receives this well-deserved award at the CIRES Rendezvous rescheduled for August 14 at the University of Colorado Boulder.