Group presentations at the 9th International GEOS-Chem Conference

Six group members presented their research at the 9th International GEOS-Chem Conference in Cambridge, Massachusetts May 5-9, 2019. Several contributions from the group will go into the upcoming public versions of the GEOS-Chem model.

Holly Nowell: “Impacts of improved burned area estimates on biomass burning emissions” (talk)

Christopher Holmes: “Cloud chemistry in the tropospheric NOx cycle: a new modeling approach its global implications” (talk)

Kelly Graham: “Inverse modeling of CO2 fluxes using O-Buoys, a multi-year dataset of surface observations from the Arctic Ocean”

Jason Ducker: “SatJ development: A satellite-derived dataset of photolysis rates in the atmosphere”

Kaitlyn Confer: “Evaluating and improving Arctic ozone chemistry in GEOS-Chem”

Will Swanson: “Observations and modeling of Arctic halogen chemistry”

Allison and Kaitlyn graduate!

Allison Ronan and Kaitlyn Confer both defended their theses in April and graduated this semester.

Allison’s masters thesis, titled “Have improvements in ozone air quality benefited plants?” used our SynFlux dataset to explore trends in plant injuries from ozone. She showed that falling ozone concentration has not translated into reduced impacts on plants. The reason is that leaf stomata control the ozone uptake and injury as much as the ozone concentration. Her work is now in review at Elementa: Science of the Anthropocene.

Kaitlyn’s honors in the major thesis tests the ability of the GEOS-Chem chemical transport model to simulate surface ozone depletion events in Arctic springtime. She tested multiple versions of the model against observations from the O-Buoy observing network and land surface stations. Kaitlyn presented the research at the 9th International GEOS-Chem Conference in May and she is headed to the University of Washington for graduate school in the fall.

Congratulations Allison and Kaitlyn!

Holmes wins NSF CAREER grant

The National Science Foundation selected Chris for a Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Award for a project titled, “Chemistry-climate interactions and feedbacks through coupled atmosphere-biosphere processes.” The prestigious grant will support research and education projects in the group for five years (2019-2024), including including graduate research assistants and summer undergraduate researchers.

Atmosphere-biosphere fluxes that influence atmospheric chemistry and climate.

Holmes appointed Baum professor

EOAS and the Dean of Arts & Sciences at FSU appointed Chris as the Werner A. and Shirley B. Baum professor of meteorology for 2019-2021. The endowed Baum funds will support new research within the group in the areas of atmosphere-land-climate interactions as well as visiting speakers on these topics.

Dr. Baum was the founding chairman of the meteorology department at Florida State University in 1949 and later served in university administration at FSU and elsewhere.

New SynFlux dataset published

The SynFlux dataset of atmosphere-biosphere fluxes of ozone is now published in Biogeosciences. Jason’s paper demonstrates that ozone uptake by vegetation can be accurately calculated at flux tower sites in the United States and Europe, even without local ozone measurements. SynFlux dramatically expands the spatial and temporal coverage of ozone flux data, by orders of magnitude, for evaluating atmospheric chemistry models and assessing air pollution impacts on vegetation. Our ongoing work is developing these applications.

SynFlux: Synthetic stomatal ozone flux at 100 sites. Values are averages over the daytime growing season. Vegetation uptake tends to be high in wet climates, where stomatal conductance is high, and not necessarily in places with high ozone concentrations.

New GRL paper on biomass burning

Holly’s paper using Florida fire records to test the ability of satellites to detect fires is now available in Geophysical Research Letters. We found that current satellites detect only one-quarter of the fire area in Florida. Moreover, the satellites do not detect the slight decrease in fire area during drought in Florida, which is a sign that the state’s prescribed fire policy is helping to reduce the risk of fire to people and property. These same results likely apply to broad areas of South America, Africa, and Asia, where fire types similar to Florida are found.

Left: Fire types found in Florida, from government records. Right: Comparison of fire area detected by satellites (BAECV version 1.1 and GFED version 4.1s) to the reported fire area (FFS+FPA FOD). All data averaged 2004-2015. The satellite detect only 25% of the reported fire area.

For more information:

Nowell, H. K., Holmes, C. D., Robertson, K., Teske, C., & Hiers, J. K. (2018). A new picture of fire extent, variability, and drought interaction in prescribed fire landscapes: Insights from Florida government records. Geophysical Research Letters, 45. https://doi.org/10.1029/2018GL078679

Methane paper in JAMES

The “methane feedback” is an interaction between methane concentrations and atmospheric chemistry that amplifies changes in methane emissions by almost 40%. As a result, the methane feedback is responsible for nearly 0.3 W/m² of radiative forcing. In a paper recently published in JAMES, we provide the first detailed assessment of how the feedback strength depends on climate and ozone precursor emissions. We show that the conventional view of the methane feedback, as a simple result of OH loss controlled by CH4, is only partially correct. The feedback strength also depends on autocatalytic OH production and OH buffering by atmospheric VOCs.

For those conducting research in the field, the paper also reviews the mathematical and chemical basis for understanding the feedback and summarizes practical formulas needed to quantify it.

For more information

Holmes, C. D. (2018). Methane feedback on atmospheric chemistry: Methods, models, and mechanisms. Journal of Advances in Modeling Earth Systems, 10, 1087–1099. https://doi.org/10.1002/2017MS001196 [pdf]

Red Hills Fire Festival

Many group members volunteered at the Red Hills Fire Festival at Tall Timbers Research Station. The event drew 900 attendees to the lawn of the historic Beadle House for prescribed fire demonstrations and exhibits about local ecology. Our group hosted a table with atmospheric science demonstrations, illustrating how fires can be detected from space and how to measure humidity, among other things.  

New NASA grant to join FIREX-AQ

NASA announced that our group will receive a grant to participate in the FIREX-AQ field campaign. FIREX-AQ aims to better quantify emissions from fires and monitor the chemical aging of smoke plumes. The campaign will use NASA and NOAA aircraft in summer 2019. Together with Dr. Henry Fuelberg, our group will provide weather, fire, and smoke forecasting for the flight planning team.