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When good ozone goes bad

When good ozone goes bad

NOAA research is helping air quality managers understand what drives high ozone readings in the desert southwest during springtime. 

January 25, 2017 0 Comments
NOAA “reels in” data on Utah’s winter ozone problem

NOAA “reels in” data on Utah’s winter ozone problem

A deep sea fishing rod is probably not the first tool that comes to mind when thinking about how to study air pollution in a remote inland desert, but it’s the heart of a new NOAA system that has given scientists a minute-by-minute look at how quickly the sun can convert oil and gas facility emissions to harmful ground-level ozone.

September 19, 2016 0 Comments
Accounting for Denver’s Ozone

Accounting for Denver’s Ozone

The first peer-reviewed study to quantify oil and gas emissions on Colorado's northern Front Range confirms that energy development is an important contributor to the region’s chronic ozone problem. The NOAA-CIRES research was published August 8 in the Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres

August 9, 2016 0 Comments
North Dakota’s Bakken oil and gas field leaking 275,000 tons of methane per year

North Dakota’s Bakken oil and gas field leaking 275,000 tons of methane per year

The Bakken oil and gas field is leaking a lot of methane, but less than some satellites report, and less than the latest Environmental Protection Agency inventory for petroleum systems, according to the researchers’ calculations. That's the finding of the first field study measuring emissions of this potent greenhouse gas from the Bakken, which spans parts of North Dakota and Montana. The work was published today in the Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres

May 11, 2016 0 Comments
New NOAA-led study measures soot from North Dakota  flaring in oil and gas fields

New NOAA-led study measures soot from North Dakota flaring in oil and gas fields

In the lonely reaches of northwestern North Dakota and across the border into Saskatchewan, the vast Bakken oil field hosts extensive activities to extract both crude oil and natural gas. Business is booming—production increased by 30 percent between May 2013 and May 2014. More than a quarter of the total gas produced from the Bakken operations can’t be processed fast enough, though, and the common industry practice is to flare it—burn it off as it is vented to the atmosphere. Jutting 30 feet upward like enormous lit matchsticks, the flares pose a new question for atmospheric scientists: What do the flares put into the air? A new NOAA-led study has produced the first direct measurements of how much black carbon—a major component of airborne particles that are commonly referred to as soot —is emitted by the Bakken flaring operations.

September 9, 2015 0 Comments
NOAA's Science On a Sphere® animations coming to your desktop

NOAA's Science On a Sphere® animations coming to your desktop

(September 1) Today NOAA released a free, downloadable flat screen version of its popular Science On a Sphere® (SOS), SOS ExplorerTM. This new way to display the dynamics of Earth’s weather and climate, plate tectonics and more will help teachers bring these stunning science visualizations, usually found at museums and science centers, into the classroom, where students can learn by exploring.


September 1, 2015 0 Comments
Stratosphere an Accomplice for Santa Ana Winds and California Wildfires

Stratosphere an Accomplice for Santa Ana Winds and California Wildfires

The hot and dry Santa Ana winds are associated with many of Southern California’s destructive wildfires, and even take the blame for tense, ugly moods. Now, NOAA researchers have found that on occasion the winds have an accomplice in contributing to California’s wildfires: atmospheric events known as stratospheric intrusions, which bring extremely dry air from the upper atmosphere down to the surface.

July 8, 2015 0 Comments
Nationwide study measures short-term spike in particulate matter due to Independence Day fireworks

Nationwide study measures short-term spike in particulate matter due to Independence Day fireworks

From our nation’s founding, the Fourth of July has been synonymous with fireworks. While many grew up learning that fireworks can be dangerous to the eyes and hands if not handled properly, fireworks also produce air pollutants, including particulate matter, that are linked to short-term or long-term health effects.

NOAA has authored a new study appearing in the journal Atmospheric Environment that quantifies the surge in fine particulate matter – particles that are two and one half microns in diameter (PM2.5) – on July 4, using observations from the 315 U.S. air quality monitoring sites that operated from 1999 to 2013. The new study is the first nationwide quantitative analysis of the effects.

June 30, 2015 0 Comments
Stricter limits for ozone pollution would boost need for science, measurements

Stricter limits for ozone pollution would boost need for science, measurements

A tougher federal standard for ozone pollution, under consideration to improve public health, would ramp up the importance of scientific measurements and models, according to a new commentary published in the June 5 edition of Science by researchers at NOAA and its cooperative institute at the University of Colorado Boulder.

The commentary, led by Owen Cooper of the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences and NOAA’s Earth System Research Laboratory, looks at how a new, stricter ozone standard would pose challenges for air quality managers at state and local levels. Last November, the Environmental Protection Agency proposed lowering the primary ozone standard from 75 parts per billion (ppb) to 70 or 65 ppb, based on ozone’s known effects on children, the elderly, and people who have lung diseases such as asthma. A decision by the EPA administrator is expected in October 2015.

June 4, 2015 0 Comments
Quantifying the emissions from a large ethanol refinery

Quantifying the emissions from a large ethanol refinery

After quantifying the airborne emissions from the nation’s third largest ethanol refinery, a team led by NOAA and University of ColoradoBoulder researchers has found that for some gases, refining ethanol releases more to the atmosphere than previously thought—and in some cases more than is ultimately released by burning the fuel in vehicles. The emissions can contribute to the formation of ozone, a regulated pollutant that can affect human health. Results are published in a paper published online by Journal of Geophysical Research.

May 5, 2015 0 Comments
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