This guest post is written by Stephen R. Springston, an atmospheric chemist at Brookhaven National Laboratory. After receiving his Ph.D. in chemistry from Indiana University, he completed a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Utah before joining Brookhaven in 1986.

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Stephen Springston

After studying clouds and climate in Oklahoma during tornado season and storms atop Colorado mountaintops, a group of atmospheric scientists from Brookhaven National Laboratory will soon be helping to sample the skies over India.

We’ve been asked to share our expertise on conducting ground and aircraft field campaigns, and have outfitted two mobile laboratories with equipment to be deployed during the Ganges Valley Aerosol eXperiment (GVAX), a nine-month field study aimed at researching how aerosols — small particles like dust and soot in the air — affect the formation of clouds and amounts of rainfall. Findings from the study, conducted by the Department of Energy’s (DOE) Atmospheric Radiation Measurement (ARM) Climate Research Facility, will be used to improve computer models that simulate Earth’s climate.

Peter Daum, chair of Brookhaven’s environmental sciences department, has been advising the lead program scientist, Rao Kotamarthi, of Argonne National Laboratory, on aircraft operations for the study. Daum will also be visiting sites in India later this week to talk with our counterparts there about strategies for deploying the Indian research aircraft.

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An Aerosol Chemical Speciation Monitor, which measures mass and chemical composition of submicron aerosol particles in real time. The instrument will be part of the mobile laboratories being deployed to India.

Then, this summer, during the peak time of aerosol formation in the Northeast, we’ll get a chance to test out and fine-tune the mobile research units here at Brookhaven before they are deployed to India later in the fall.

The units are two of four designed and equipped over the past 18 months by scientists, technicians, and others at Brookhaven with instruments purchased largely by Brookhaven for DOE under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA).

The India-bound units are designated Mobile Aerosol Observing System – Aerosol (MAOS-A) and Mobile Aerosol Observing System – Chemistry (MAOS-C). They are highly customized mobile shipping containers that provide environmentally controlled space for research-grade instruments (some made and designed at Brookhaven), plus sampling inlets and computers for control, storage, and communications. Together, the two laboratories contain more than 20 individual instrument systems used to measure atmospheric parameters needed to better understand the effects of aerosols on climate. All are installed and fully connected in shock-isolated racks for transportation, with an easy on-site setup process that requires just a couple of days.

In the fall, both units will be leaving for the town of Lucknow in India. Members of the Brookhaven team will travel to India to set up and start the units, after which they will be operated by Indian site technical staff. Once installed, the tools will actively take data for approximately two months.

For more information:

ARM news release on the kickoff of GVAX

ARM feature story describing the whole range of instruments involved in the study