Kirk Beckendorf, July 4, 2004

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Kirk Beckendorf
Onboard NOAA Ship Ronald H. Brown

July 4 – 23, 2004

Mission: New England Air Quality Study (NEAQS)
Geographical Area:
Northwest Atlantic Ocean
July 4, 2004

Science and Technology Log

Imagine a chunk of polluted air over a city or an individual power plant. How could you find that same air in 2, 3 or 4 days?

This morning in Portsmouth, I ate breakfast with Wayne Angevine who works at NOAA’s Aeronomy Lab in Boulder, Colorado. It will be his job during this air quality study to predict where that polluted air will be in the next few days. He and the other meteorologist working with him, will not only be predicting how far and in which direction the air has gone, but also how high it is.

These predictions can then be used to direct the airplanes and the ship being used in the NEAQS study to that “chunk” of air so it can be sampled and measured to determine how the pollutants have changed from day to day.

Although 31 scientists and I will be on NOAA’s RONALD H. BROWN, the ship is just one part of NEAQS. Wayne and dozens of other modelers and scientist will be coordinating the project from Pease International Trade Center in New Hampshire. Approximately one dozen aircraft from Europe to the Midwestern US will be collecting data. A number of land based sites will also be collecting weather and air quality data. All of this information will help the project managers determine their next move on a daily basis and what happens to New England’s pollution once it has been released it into the atmosphere.

Personal Log

This afternoon at my hotel I loaded my duffel bag of clothes, my laptop and cameras into a cab and set off for the BROWN. When I arrived, the gate in the chain link fence surrounding the port area was locked and I didn’t know the combination. I unloaded all my bags on the ground, paid the cab and waited. Eventually, someone leaving the ship came through the gate and I was able to get in. A Lieutenant on board took me to my stateroom and gave me another quick tour of the ship. The rest of the afternoon I spent visiting with some of the scientists. I will give a more detail explanation of what they do once we get under way but Bill Kuster showed me his two instruments which measure specific kinds of molecules in the atmosphere. One measures in real time and the other takes samples every 30 minutes. The samples are later analyzed. I then visited with Anne Thompson who studies ozone and will be launching ozonesondes once a day.

Question of the Day

What is an ozonesonde?

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