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Department of Atmospheric Science

Tues., Oct. 4, 3:10 pm, EN6085

Atmospheric Chemistry in the Anthropocene: Combining Active and Passive Remote Sensing 

Rainer Volkamer

University of Colorado


A rapidly growing world population in the Anthropocene is impacting atmospheric composition on global scales. The last decade has marked a turning point in human history, as for the first time more people are now living in urban rather than rural environments on our planet. There is a need for methods that characterize emissions on the appropriate scales, inform and test models. Atmospheric chemistry is at the core of the impacts of Air Pollution on human health (ozone and aerosols) and Climate (lifetime of greenhouse gases, aerosol and cloud radiation feedbacks). This presentation describes field measurements from mobile platforms (ground-based, ships, aircraft) that combine active- and passive remote sensing with in-situ observations of ozone and aerosol precursor gases. Ammonia (NH3) emissions from agriculture was studied using the recently developed University of Colorado mobile Solar Occultation Flux spectroscopy (CU mobile SOF) prototype instrument during the Front Range Air Pollution and Photochemistry Experiment in Colorado (FRAPPE2014); nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and ozone (O3) production were probed using CU AMAX-DOAS, NOAA ozone and aerosol lidar (TOPAZ), and a wind lidar over California's Central Valley (CalNex2010). Finally, ocean sources of tropospheric halogens and organic carbon were studied over the tropical Eastern Pacific Ocean (TORERO2012). Natural sources of tropospheric halogens and marine organic carbon destroy ozone, oxidize atmospheric mercury, modify oxidative capacity and aerosols. But why was ozone so low (~10 parts per billion) in pre-industrial times? Our ability to answer this question determines the baseline under which anthropogenic impacts have modified the radiative forcing associated with tropospheric ozone as an important greenhouse gas. Time permitting, first applications of airborne SOF to study biomass burning will also be discussed (ARISTO2016).

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