ESRL Integrating Research and Technology Themes

Tropospheric Ozone and Air Quality

Theme Presentations

  1. Goal and Scope
  2. This integrated activity addresses NOAA's strategic goals in air quality (and climate). Exposure to high concentrations of ozone, its precursors and co-pollutants adversely impacts public health and causes damage to sensitive ecosystems. In addition, tropospheric ozone is a climate forcing agent whose global impact appears to be increasing with time.

    The scientific foci are as follows:

    • Laboratory studies to elucidate chemical transformation mechanisms and to quantify kinetic, photochemical, and thermodynamic parameters needed in predictive models.
    • Theoretical and modeling studies of the formation and distribution of ozone and its co-pollutants leading to an improved predictive capability.
    • Integrated field studies to quantify and characterize atmospheric processes that control the formation and distribution of tropospheric ozone and its co-pollutants.
    • Integrated assessments that link natural and man-made emissions to ambient levels of ozone and its co-pollutants to enable policy development and emission management strategies to benefit both air quality and climate.
    • Development of prototype air quality forecast models and modeling techniques.

  3. Rationale and Payoffs
  4. A complete understanding of ozone and its impact on air quality and climate requires a multidisciplinary approach described above and the combined resources and talents of several of the Boulder divisions. Carefully integrated measurement programs will provide data that will benefit both air quality and climate.

    This integration will result in two outcomes that support NOAA's Strategic Plan:

    Outcome 1: Decision-Makers will have the sound science they need to make well informed decisions. Ozone poses a complex and challenging problem for policy-makers. Integrated approaches that produce efficient and cost-effective policies are needed in both air quality and climate to offer win-win situations for air quality and climate.

    Outcome 2: The Nation will have reliable and timely air quality forecast guidance. NOAA has just launched an initial operational ozone forecast capability for the Northeast. Plans are in place to extend those forecasts to the entire U.S. over the next few years. While the current ozone forecasts exhibit significant skill, it needs to be improved and the outlook needs to be extended from one to four days if we are to meet public needs. Improvement in forecast skill requires a careful evaluation of all components of the current operational models and the development and testing of improved approaches for future deployment. Improved forecasts will allow the Public to mitigate the impacts of adverse air quality.

  5. Major Collaborators and Their Research Foci
    1. Earth System Research Laboratory
      • Chemical Sciences Division: New in situ measurement methods, laboratory studies, intensive field studies, forecast model evaluation. Remote sensing of ozone and intensive studies of its accumulation, transport, and deposition in the context of process and model evaluation.
      • Physical Sciences Division: Lower tropospheric physical process observations and analyses including continuous remote sensing and surface exchange process observations and diagnostics associated with the evaluation of model performance. Role of seasonal, interannual, and decadal climate variability on ozone concentrations and trends.
      • Global Monitoring Division: Vertical profiles of ozone and precursors, surface ozone trends in remote locations. Surface radiation standards and evaluation relevant to improved physical process parameterization.
      • Global Systems Division: Development and evaluation of air quality forecast models.
    2. Other NOAA
      • Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Lab: Development and testing of global chemical transport models, global air quality simulations and analysis.
      • Air Resources Lab: Regional-scale model development for policy and forecasting applications, quantification of ozone deposition, intensive field studies
      • NWS: Operational air quality forecasts
      • NESDIS: Space-borne sensing and data sets of ozone and precursors. Global maps of biomass burning and gas flares.
  6. Contributions to NOAA Goals
    • Weather and Water Strategic Plan. Calls on the Air Quality Program to "provide information to support effective air quality decision making" and " to improve accuracy of air quality prediction models", which includes the capability to forecast particulate matter concentration in 5-7 years. (Summary)
    • NOAA Strategic Plan FY 2005 - FY 2010. Performance Objective: "Reduce uncertainty in climate projections through timely information on the forcings and feedbacks contributing to changes in the Earth's climate." (p. 8)
  7. Major Information Products, Customers, and Linkages
    • Periodic regional assessments that identify causes of poor air quality and provide linkages with natural and man-made emission sources to provide policy options.
    • Air Quality Research Subcommittee of the Committee on Environment and Natural Resources (CENR), chaired by NOAA provides an opportunity to integrate NOAA's efforts into the National air quality research enterprise.
    • NARSTO a three-nation (Mexico, U.S., Canada) public/private partnership focused on using research to find solutions to air quality problems that plague North America. This group provides an opportunity to coordinate NOAA research with the needs and efforts of the private sector.
    • EPA and State and local Air Quality Forecast - Air Management agencies.