NOAA 2004-R520
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The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and its partners today offered a glimpse into the largest international air quality and climate study to date. NOAA is an agency of the U.S. Department of Commerce.

During a press conference today held pier side next to NOAA’s Research Vessel Ronald H. Brown, dignitaries and guests toured the ship and visited some of the aircraft used in the field campaign. The Brown left following the ceremony, continuing the July-August field work being conducted in the Gulf of Maine.

New England was the site of a similar air quality study in 2002. The studies are part of a five-year $9 million effort commissioned by Sen. Judd Gregg.

Part of the international campaign, the New England Air Quality Study is a regional assessment of air quality that also explores its link to climate. The international campaign is the International Consortium for Atmospheric Research on Transport and Transformation (ICARTT), involving five nations, six U.S. federal agencies, three European agencies, 25 universities and research institutes, 13 planes, one ship, 55 ground sites, and three satellites, and extending from the western U.S. to continental Europe.

“Data from this summer’s experiment combined with insights from work done in 2002 are providing new perspectives on long-standing questions,” said retired Navy Vice Adm. Conrad C. Lautenbacher, Ph.D., undersecretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere and NOAA administrator. “By pulling out all the stops and collecting data on the ground, in the air, and at sea, we will have some good information on which to help guide our decisions in the future.”

Major partners involved in the project include NOAA, NASA, the University of New Hampshire, the Department of Energy-Brookhaven, Harvard University, and the Meteorological Service of Canada.

"We are honored to be working so closely with NOAA on this ambitious and complex field campaign," said Berrien Moore III, director of the University of New Hampshire's Institute for the Study of Earth, Oceans, and Space. “And we are ever grateful to Senator Gregg for his commitment to getting the science needed to understand the dynamics our region's variable air quality and, ultimately, protecting the air we breathe."

Contributions to the effort range in scope of NASA’s DC-8 aircraft and science team to a solitary buoy from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution moored in the Gulf of Maine measuring atmospheric ozone and gathering basic meteorological data.

NOAA conducts regional air quality assessments, such as this one, to understand the atmospheric processes and a region’s unique combination of processes. Past studies took place in central Pennsylvania; Houston, Texas; the Southeast; and parts of the Midwest. Future studies will include the Appalachians and East Texas.

While gathering data for the regional air quality assessment and the larger climate portion of the project, scientists will also be collecting information that will be used in NOAA’s daily air quality forecasts that will begin in mid-September in the Northeast. A joint project with the Environmental Protection Agency, the forecasts are in the final experimental stage.

“The forecasts are an example of how NOAA brings value to science, which is at the heart of NOAA’s information service mission,” Lautenbacher said.

NOAA is dedicated to enhancing economic security and national safety through research to better understand atmospheric and climate variability and to manage wisely our nation's coastal and marine resources.

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