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University of Iowa News Release

Oct. 5, 2005

Eichinger Receives $322,000 NSF Award To Study Mexico City Smog

William Eichinger, professor of civil and environmental engineering in the University of Iowa College of Engineering, faculty research engineer at IIHR-Hydroscience & Engineering and researcher in the Center for Global & Regional Environmental Research, has received a two-year, $322,000 National Science Foundation (NSF) grant to investigate the chemical composition of smog in Mexico City.

The project, called MIRAGE (Megacity Impacts on Regional and Global Environments), is aimed at measuring the chemical and physical transformations of gaseous and aerosol pollutants in the outflow from Mexico City, currently the world's second largest metropolitan area. It will involve the use of a mobile lidar (laser radar) system to measure the radiative properties of aerosols at various distances from Mexico City.

Eichinger says that mobile lidar will enable researchers to chart the location, concentration, extent and persistence of the Mexico City plume as it moves into surrounding regions. The mobility of the system also will reveal the upwind sources of some pollutants and help address issues relating to changes in aerosol size, shape and composition over time. Lidar will provide such information as the height and relative density of aerosols in the atmosphere, as well as the amount, height and optical depth of cloud layers.

"Ultimately, the information this project will provide will be used to develop methods to mitigate the effects of emissions into the atmosphere. The project also will provide valuable research experience to several graduate students," he says.

His colleagues in the study include Piotr Lewandowski, a graduate student in the UI Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering and John Prueger, a researcher at the U.S, Department of Agriculture (USDA) Soil Tilth Laboratory in Ames, Iowa. Jennifer Nichols and Dan Ceynar, technicians at IIHR-Hydroscience & Engineering, will support the experiment.

Eichinger, who earned his doctorate in hydrologic science from the University of California-Davis in 1995 and joined the UI faculty in 1997, has specialized knowledge in the fields of hydrology and fluid mechanics in the environment, atmospheric pollution control and remediation, optical remote sensing, lidar and nuclear physics.

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Services, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 371, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500.

MEDIA CONTACT: Gary Galluzzo, 319-384-0009, gary-galluzzo@uiowa.edu