CONTACT: GARY GALLUZZO
300 Plaza Centre One
Iowa City IA 52242
(319) 384-0009; fax (319) 384-0024
Release: Oct. 2, 2002
Carmichael receives $2.3 million NSF grant to develop pollution 'weather
R. Carmichael, professor of chemical and biochemical engineering in the University
of Iowa College of Engineering, has received a five-year, $2.3 million grant
from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to use information technology to
develop pollution "weather forecasts" and expand the frontiers of
atmospheric chemistry and air pollution science.
The grant focuses on using new computational tools, including computer software,
to integrate computer models with pollution measurements made from aircraft,
ground stations and satellites. Carmichael says that one goal is to improve
models of complex systems and their behavior on society and the economy. He
also plans to integrate information technology research advances into science
and engineering in order to inspire new insights into how to protect the environment.
"One aspect of the grant is to develop 'chemical weather' forecasting
capabilities. There is a societal need to know whether tomorrow will bring
dangerous levels of pollution to a certain region or not. We are focused on
developing the capabilities to do this," says Carmichael, who co-directs
the UI Center for Global and Regional Environmental Research. "The tools
and concepts that we develop will be tested on problems such as monitoring
Asian pollution, forecasting chemical weather in Los Angeles and using new
satellite information to understand global pollution."
He notes that the Earth's atmospheric system is very complex, making it
extremely difficult to anticipate all the ways in which emissions of manmade
chemicals will impact the environment. Although scientists have made surface
measurements at some locations, conducted intensive experiments at others
and have begun to monitor the atmosphere using satellites, mankind's ability
to understand the fate of chemical pollutants remains incomplete.
"We simply must find clever ways to bring together the measurements
and the models -- only then can we hope to have a predictive capability,"
he says. "And this predictive capability is essential to provide guidance
for anticipating how the Earth will respond to our pressures and actions."
Carmichael, who also serves as associate dean for research and graduate
studies and Karl Kammemeyer Professor of Chemical Engineering, currently conducts
research into high-speed supercomputing to support his air pollution studies.
His three-dimensional atmospheric chemistry model is used to quantify the
worldwide fate and impact of man-made pollutants.
The grant, a partnership between the UI, Michigan Technological University,
California Institute of Technology, the National Center for Atmospheric Research
and the University of Washington, will also help researchers to further study
Asian pollution, a field where Carmichael has earned international acclaim.
Earlier this year, Carmichael and his colleagues accurately forecast the formation
of the so-called "Asian Brown Cloud" that began as a Gobi Dessert
dust storm before mixing with pollutants from Asian factories and cars. Eventually,
it blotted out the sun and caused people to wear face masks in Seoul, South
Also during 2002, Carmichael and about 15 colleagues used a NOAA P-3 aircraft
based in Monterey, Calif. to measure carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide, dust
and other pollutants that had crossed the Pacific. They combined their data
with weather forecasting maps to develop pollution weather maps. The maps,
created by the UI Center for Global & Regional Environmental Research
(CGRER), in collaboration with The Applied Mechanics Institute at Kyushu University
in Japan, Argonne National Laboratory and the NOAA Geophysical Fluids Dynamics
Laboratory at Princeton, can be viewed on-line at http://www.cgrer.uiowa.edu/people/ytang/itct-2k2.html.