Climate and Air Quality Monitoring in Charlotte

Global warming is happening, but scientific research is clear that global warming is not globally uniform*. The term ‘global warming’ understates the complexity of what the impacts of carbon emissions from anthropogenic burning of fossil fuels really are, which is why the terms ‘climate change’ or ‘global change’ or global environmental change are more useful in describing this unprecedented era in human history, and really in geological history.

Dr Magi sampling PM2.5 in downtown Charlotte with Clean Air Carolina in Summer 2016.

Dr Magi sampling PM2.5 in downtown Charlotte with Clean Air Carolina in Summer 2016.

One impact of global change is on urban air quality. Evidence in the scientific peer-reviewed literature suggests that, in the near future, every urban center in the USA will experience increasing numbers of days that violate federally-mandated air quality standards with respect to ozone and aerosol (airborne particulate matter) concentrations. The reasons for this are increasing surface temperatures and human population increase. The National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) enforced by the US Environmental Protection Agency are designed to protect human health, but warming temperature may deteriorate air quality faster than industries can keep up with the federal regulations. Scientifically, there are any number of research questions that need to be explored.

I am beginning the process of analyzing climate and air quality history in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg area, with the intention of bringing my expertise in aerosol physics and chemistry to bear on this problem that falls under the purvue of atmospheric chemistry. The most direct method to study local and regional air quality is the use of EPA-relevant data archived at AirNow-Tech and modeling output. There are several lines of research here for motivated graduate students interested in issues affecting their region or state:

  • Analysis of existing climate model output for the Southeastern USA
  • Analysis of existing climate-relevant data for the Southeastern USA or your favorite hypothesis-laden location
  • Analysis of existing satellite-based data (MODIS, MISR, CALIPSO, and even the sparkling-new NPP Suomi) for the USA, the Southern USA, or your favorite hypothesis-laden location
  • Chemical modeling using CMAQ
  • Analysis of existing air quality relevant data for evaluation of trends and attribution studies
  • Establish an air monitoring measurements at UNC Charlotte to compliment EPA-relevant measurements at (Charlotte-Mecklenburg DENR), with the dual goal being to establish a NOAA Global Monitoring Division measurement site
  • Establish an AERONET station on campus to join the global network of measurements managed by NASA Goddard Space Flight Center
  • Please contact me if you are interested in climate and/or air quality research. I addition to my expertise in satellite- and climate-based data evaluation methods, NOAA NCDC is right up the road, I have some expertise in analyzing climate model output, and there are even scientists at sister schools in the UNC system (App State, NC State, UNC Chapel Hill, to name a few) that I think would be happy to make their data and research efforts more broadly useful.

    I am very happy to be teaching courses that touch on this topic directly (Global Environmental Change, Applied Climatology) and indirectly (Atmospheric Physics, Atmospheric Chemistry). I would very much enjoy hearing about your ideas for graduate-level research.


    *borrowed that nice phrase from Global Warming: Understanding the Forecast, 2nd Ed., David Archer