PALO ALTO, Calif. – (June 5, 2013) – The Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) announced today its involvement in a research project in the Southeast United States to quantify the contributions of biogenic and man-made emissions to air quality by examining their atmospheric transformations and interactions. EPRI, Southern Company and Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) air quality monitoring stations will support ground-based measurements for the project.
The Southern Oxidant and Aerosol Study (SOAS) is a 6-week air quality measurement analysis taking place this summer. SOAS is part of a larger, $20 million research campaign known as the Southeast Atmosphere Study (SAS), funded by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, National Science Foundation and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in addition to contributions from EPRI, Southern Company and TVA.
The field campaign to collect data on gases and particles in the atmosphere began on June 1 and continues through July 15, and will include ground- and air-based air quality measurements. The Southeast is an ideal location to study biogenic-man-made interactions, because of the proximity of vegetative emissions with a variety of man-made emissions sources. The research seeks to determine how emissions, chemistry and meteorology combine to affect regional air quality and climate in the Southeastern United States.
EPRI and Southern Company are providing air quality research scientists with historical expertise on air quality issues in the region. SOAS researchers will have access to two decades of air quality and meteorological data from 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.
The SEARCH network Centerville site in Brent, Ala., will be the focal point for collecting ground measurements for SOAS and the other SAS campaigns. SEARCH has documented improving air quality across the region since the Southern Oxidants Study in 1992, and the SEARCH data set will provide important context for researchers as they interpret extensive SAS data.
TVA’s Look Rock, Tenn., air quality monitoring station just outside the Great Smoky Mountains National Park will serve as a satellite monitoring site for the ground campaign.
“Observations and insights from these campaigns will form the basis of substantial new air quality research over next several years” said Stephanie Shaw, senior project manager for EPRI’s air quality research. “We also anticipate using the information to test new monitoring equipment, develop and test new modules for air quality models, and evaluate model performance to support basic scientific research and air quality management methods.”
The six-week field campaign and subsequent analyses will seek to answer scientific questions such as:
- What controls the amount of reactive carbon and nitrogen chemicals and oxidants that are relevant to particle formation?
- How are the organic compounds emitted from biogenic sources transformed in the atmosphere? What controls these transformations? Do these processes affect air pollutants?
- To what extent do man-made influences impact biogenic emissions to form organic particles?
- How does chemistry occurring on and in the particles, and the presence of clouds, influence particle composition and air quality impacts?
- What are the climate-relevant properties of biogenic aerosols?
“Southern Company is committed to finding real solutions to America’s energy challenges through innovation,” said Chris Hobson, senior vice president and chief environmental office of Southern Company. “We are an industry leader in the development of air pollution control technologies, and this study is a natural complement to our ongoing environmental research efforts.”
SOAS and the associated field studies will be the most intensive air quality research campaign in the southeastern United States in more than 20 years. Since the 1990’s field instrumentation, analytical techniques, and air quality models have all improved substantially, and large reductions in anthropogenic emissions have occurred. This new research is very timely and will provide better understanding and scientific knowledge of regional emissions and how they interact and change in the atmosphere.
“TVA believes investing in good science, like this project, makes for more effective air quality policies,” said Joe Hoagland, senior. vice president of policy and oversight. “The Look Rock monitoring station has tracked large declines in key pollutants in recent years. We hope that this study will provide information that will help the region to continue this trend.”
A fact sheet on the EPRI/Southern Company SEARCH network is available for download from EPRI’s website.
The Electric Power Research Institute, Inc. (EPRI, www.epri.com
) conducts research and development relating to the generation, delivery and use of electricity for the benefit of the public. An independent, nonprofit organization, EPRI brings together its scientists and engineers as well as experts from academia and industry to help address challenges in electricity, including reliability, efficiency, health, safety and the environment. EPRI's members represent approximately 90 percent of the electricity generated and delivered in the United States, and international participation extends to more than 30 countries. EPRI's principal offices and laboratories are located in Palo Alto, Calif.; Charlotte, N.C.; Knoxville, Tenn.; and Lenox, Mass.