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NOAA image of WP-3D “hurricane hunter” research aircraft.March 18, 2004 — NOAA scientists and their colleagues from other government agencies, academia and the international science community will conduct the largest air quality study in New England this summer. “We’ve pulled out all the stops and will be conducting this research on all levels—on the ground, in the air and at sea,” said retired Navy Vice Admiral Conrad C. Lautenbacher, Ph.D., undersecretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere and NOAA administrator, during a news conference today in New Hampshire. (Click NOAA image for larger view of WP-3D “hurricane hunter” research aircraft. Click here for high resolution version, which is a large file. Please credit “NOAA.”)

Lautenbacher, Sen. Judd Gregg (R-NH), and Ann Weaver Hart, president of the University of New Hampshire, outlined the New England Air Quality study during a news conference at the University of New Hampshire in Durham. The study will use New Hampshire as a major base for the planes and the NOAA ship Brown during July and August.

NOAA will use a WP-3D research aircraft used during hurricane reconnaissance flights. It will be outfitted to be a “flying chemistry laboratory,” Lautenbacher said. A second aircraft will carry a remote pollution-sensing laser.

Brown, which was designed as a research vessel, will collect data at sea, while ground measurements will be taken at field stations throughout New England by a unique collaboration between NOAA and the University of New Hampshire—the Atmospheric Investigation, Regional Modeling, Analysis, and Prediction (AIRMAP).

“We look to this study to better understand air quality issues unique to this area,” said Lautenbacher. “That information will also be used for NOAA’s daily Air Quality forecasts, that will start in the northeast this fall, with plans to go nationwide within the next five years.”

The air quality forecasts are a joint project between NOAA and the Environmental Protection Agency.

Lautenbacher noted that a study of this scope cannot be done by one entitiy alone.

“This is a highly collaborative team effort. We’ve brought together partners from other agencies, academia and the international scientific community to help us get the best possible scientific information,” Lautenbacher said.

The 2004 study builds on the 2002 New England Air Quality Study, part of a five-year $9 million effort led by the NOAA Aeronomy Laboratory in Boulder, Colo. Lautenbacher noted that the study could not take place without funding secured by Sen. Gregg, chairman of the Appropriations Subcommittee.

“We will provide solid science to underpin future efforts to improve the air quality for the citizens of this region,” Lautenbacher said. “Science to support decisions is at the heart of NOAA’s information service mission.”

In addition to the University of New Hampshire, other partners for the study include the National Aeronautics and Space Agency, Department of Energy-Brookhaven, California Institute of Technology (Caltech), the Meteorological Service of Canada, Harvard University, and the State University of New York-Albany/Atmospheric Sciences Research Center.

The NOAA Office of Global Programs is providing $4.6 million for the New England Air Quality Study this year.

NOAA is dedicated to enhancing economic security and national safety through the prediction and research of weather and climate-related events and providing environmental stewardship of the nationís coastal and marine resources. NOAA is part of the U.S. Department of Commerce.

Relevant Web Sites
NOAA Aeronomy Laboratory

NOAA’s “Hurricane Hunter” Aircraft

Media Contact:
Jana Goldman, NOAA Research, (301) 713-2483