SAN FRANCISCO -- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently awarded a $300,000 grant to U.C. Irvine and a $400,000 grant to U.C. San Diego for work to improve our understanding of how certain organic compounds form in the atmosphere.
The grants are part of more than $4.3 million awarded to 13 institutions nationwide. Support from EPA, along with that of the National Science Foundation (NSF), the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Southern Company, and the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) totals more than $20 million in research funding. EPA is also contributing staff scientists to work as part of this effort.
“The research to be performed by U.C. Irvine and U.C. San Diego is designed to increase our understanding of how natural and man-made particles mix in the atmosphere,” said Jared Blumenfeld, EPA’s Regional Administrator for the Pacific Southwest. “The results will help our improve management of air quality and add critical data to climate change models.”
EPA grant funding will be used for both field and lab studies to examine how man-made emissions of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) can combine in the atmosphere to create fine particulates known as aerosols. Aerosols are solid and liquid particles suspended in the atmosphere that impact our climate because they affect the amount of radiation from the sun that reaches the earth. Aerosols have been tied to health impacts, so they also play an important role in air quality.
Researchers will have access to NOAA and NSF resources such as aircraft and towers to capture information about organic aerosols at multiple heights in the air and on the ground at the same time. The Southeastern Aerosol Research and Characterization (SEARCH) Network, a collection of air quality monitoring stations throughout the southeastern United States developed by EPRI and Southern Company will be collecting ground measurements, and providing access to current and historical air quality data and analyses. The researchers will use the collected data, and high quality models built from this data, to address emerging air pollution issues.
In addition to the two U.C. schools, EPA awarded grants to the following institutions:
- Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
- University of Wisconsin, Madison, Wisconsin
- SUNY, Stony Brook, New York
- Western Michigan University, Kalamazoo, Michigan
- Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, Georgia
- Research Triangle Institute, Durham, North Carolina
- Rutgers University, Newark, New Jersey
- Reed College, Portland, Oregon
- University of Iowa, Iowa City, Iowa
- Washington University, St. Louis, Missouri
- University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, North Carolina
These research grants support EPA’s Air, Climate, and Energy research program, providing integrated science to address complex air quality issues.