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Ocean Research Project Vision Sets Sail To Help Save Oceans

Matt Rutherford and UMBC Graduate Student Nicole Trenholm

Capital Gazette Article by:


Matt Rutherford and Nicole Trenholm weren’t going to let bad news about a grant for this year’s arctic marine expedition stop them. So they hitched a ride. Friends with boats, right?  “The deal is they will take us into Greenland waters for our research in exchange for me helping them navigate the toughest sections of the Northwest Passage,” Rutherford said. He met the owners of the boat while delivering a boat from Panama to San Diego a few years back.  The couple, who make up the Ocean Research Project using the small platform of a sailboat to perform marine research delving into man’s effect on the world’s oceans, was determined to get back into the Arctic for follow up research from their 2016 mission to northern Greenland.  And they were buoyed after co-publishing a paper with NASA scientists and the Oceans Melting Greenland (OMG) project, published by Oceanography magazine in June, based on their research into ocean temperatures affecting Greenland glacier melt.  And further boosted by the donation of a 65-foot steel-hulled Bruce Roberts sailboat to their cause. It needs some sprucing up, but should prove to be a vessel for the long haul.  They took off from their home base in Annapolis July 23, flying to Reykjavik, Iceland, then to Greenland.  The scientist half of the operation is Trenholm while Rutherford, famous for his 2012 single-handed nonstop voyage around the Americas — the first to ever accomplish the sailing feat — is the captain and spark plug.  Trenholm, who also has a blog and teaching arrangement with Anne Arundel County Public Schools STEM program, posted some details after they made it to Aasiaat, Greenland, a small village about a third of the way up the icy coast.  They boarded Toboggan, the boat they hitched a ride on, and took off up Disko Bay to record water temperatures approaching Jakobshavn Glacier, known to calf off chunks of ice the size of New York City.  “With our CTD instrument, which measures conductivity, temperature and depth, we indeed found that warm water,” Trenholm wrote.  From there they moved north to Upernavik to check ice charts and gear up to cross Baffin Bay into the Northwest Passage, a three-day sail.  By Friday night they were just off Devon Island, the largest uninhabited island on earth, at the eastern end of the passage.

They plan to conduct more research.

Read more at Ocean Research Project Vision To Save Oceans

The NASA Applied Remote Sensing Training Program (ARSET)

The NASA Applied Remote Sensing Training (ARSET) program offers satellite remote sensing training that builds the skills to integrate NASA Earth Science data into an agency’s decision-making activities. Training sessions are offered in many areas of remote sensing, including air quality, climate, disaster relief, health, land, and water resources. These trainings, offered both online and in person, have a world wide reach of over 13,000 participants and more than 3, 600 organizations. Managed by Ana Prados , the ARSET program team consists of Training Coordinator, Brock Blevins, Technical Writer and Editor, Elizabeth Hook Program Evaluator, Annelise Carleton-Hug and Project Support, Marines Martins.   There are many specialty leads and instructors including Melanie Follette-Cook, Pawan Gupta, Amber Jean McCullum, Amita Mehta, Erika Podest, and Cynthia Schmidt.

The photo above is from an in-person training last week July 10-12, “Satellite Remote Sensing of Dust, Fires, Smoke, and Air Quality” conducted by Pawan Gupta and Melanie Follette-Cook.  With assistance from Elizabeth Hook, Brock Blevins, and Selwyn Hudson-Odoi.  This training was coordinated with Washington State University who hosted the training in partnership with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Region 10, and the US Forest Service Pacific Northwest Research Station. Over the course of three days, 39 participants from 25 organizations attended the training.

To Learn more visit:  NASA Applied Remote Sensing (ARSET)

Air Quality Study Over Chesapeake Bay Seeks To Understand Pollution


Researchers release balloon carrying instruments to measure air pollution over the Chesapeake Bay in this handout photo from earlier this summer on Hart Miller Island. (Handout courtesy of Maryland Department of the Environment)

Article by Liz Bowie – Contact Reporter for Baltimore Sun

The sky above Hart-Miller Island became a busy laboratory for several weeks this summer as researchers launched balloons, drones and planes to better understand the complex swirl of air pollution over the Chesapeake Bay.  State and federal agencies initiated a research study aimed at providing more detailed data on how and why the Chesapeake Bay seems to act as a magnet for ozone pollution, amplifying the smog before it is then blown back over land.  “The study is an exciting example of cutting-edge research on the interface between land and water,” said Maryland Environment Secretary Ben Grumbles.  The study attempts to understand in a three-dimensional way what happens to the emissions of power plants, cars and other pollutants once they gather over the Chesapeake Bay. The results could help Maryland make the case for forcing sources of air pollution in states upwind to better control their emissions.  Maryland officials blame air pollution from upwind states for more than two-thirds of the smog that forms over the Baltimore and Washington regions. On hot summer days, the sunlight and heat trigger chemical reactions between pollutants and other compounds in the air, multiplying what is known as ground-level ozone.  Ozone is a form of oxygen found naturally in the upper atmosphere that protects the Earth from ultraviolet radiation, but ground-level ozone is a key ingredient in smog and can cause or aggravate breathing or heart problems in humans.  Already this year there have been eight days when Baltimore’s air quality exceeded U.S. Environmental Protection Agency standards.  Ozone is created by the chemical reactions between pollutants known as nitrogen oxides and volatile organic compounds. Nitrogen oxides come from the combustion of fossil fuels in cars and power plants. The nitrogen often falls out of the air as ozone is created.  About a third of the bay’s nitrogen pollution falls from the air onto the land and water, said Ariel Solaski, a staff litigation attorney at the Chesapeake Bay Foundation. Excess nitrogen in the bay contributes to algae blooms and dead zones.  Significant improvements in the bay’s water quality have been seen since nutrients including nitrogen have been reduced in the rivers and streams flowing into the bay.

Read More:  Air Quality Study Over Chesapeake Bay at Hart Miller Island


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UMBC Atmospheric Scientists Use New Instrumentation

To Study Cloud and Aerosols in Exploratory NASA Aircraft Campaigns

The science teams and ER-2 pilot staff for the ACEPOL campaign, huddled in front of the NASA ER-2 aircraft. (Image: ACEPOL Science Team)

Aerosol-cloud interaction continues to puzzle climate scientists. It is among the most significant contributors to our climate but least understood. Aerosol-cloud processes are poorly represented in climate models and measurement requires high accuracy, narrow resolution, and cooperation between different instruments.

Several studies converge on the idea that a multi-angle imaging polarimeter, with high accuracy and narrow spatial and angular resolution, is the strongest candidate to sample cloud and aerosol properties at the level required for climate study. The Hyper-Angular Rainbow Polarimeter (HARP) is a wide field-of-view camera, designed and developed by J. Vanderlei Martins and the Laboratory for Aerosol and Cloud Optics (LACO) Group at UMBC to fill this role.

Over the past year, AirHARP, the HARP instrument adapted for aircraft, flew on two NASA research campaigns: the Lake Michigan Ozone Study (LMOS) and the Aerosol Characterization from Polarimeter and LIDAR (ACEPOL). The LMOS campaign was a joint NASA-NOAA-EPA effort to explore the connection between lake breezes and high ozone exceedance levels on the eastern coastline of Wisconsin in the summer months. AirHARP took data on many B-200 flights alongside the NASA Langley Research Center (LaRC) GeoTASO instrument, a trace gas experiment that measures ozone pre-cursors, such as NO2, through the entire atmospheric column. Brent McBride, a Ph.D candidate in Martins’ group, operated AirHARP on-board the B-200 and led field operations on the ground throughout the campaign, while LACO group members engaged remotely from UMBC. While AirHARP does not have trace gas sensitivity, measurements of convective clouds and low aerosol levels over eastern Wisconsin will be compared to co-incident observations made by AERONET sun photometer sites and the Advanced Baseline Imager (ABI) on the GOES-R geosynchronous satellite.


Read more:   UMBC Atmospheric Scientists Use New Instrumentation

UMBC Physicists Discover Unexpected Effect of African

Wildfires on Climate

African Fires Effect Climate

Clouds play a prominent role in moderating Earth’s climate, but their role is still poorly understood. Generally, clouds cool the Earth by reflecting incoming sunlight back out into space. Reducing the clouds’ reflectivity—with a layer of pollution, for example—reduces the cooling effect. However, new research in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences by Zhibo Zhang, associate professor of atmospheric physics at UMBC, two of his students, and collaborators from University of Wyoming, University of Science and Technology of China, Universities Space Research Association, and University of Michigan adds another level of complexity to this model.

Every fall, fires race across central and southern Africa. Many are wildfires; others are intentionally set by humans to clear farmland. They create so much smoke that it’s clearly visible from space. Wind sweeps the smoke westward over the Atlantic Ocean, where it rises above the largest semi-permanent gathering of clouds in the world. For years, scientists believed that overall, the smoke diminishes the clouds’ cooling effect by absorbing light that the clouds beneath otherwise would reflect. The new study by Zhang and colleagues doesn’t dispute the existence of this effect, but introduces a new mechanism that counteracts it by making the clouds more reflective.

Read more:  UMBC Physicists’ New Discovery

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