HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (MAY 15, 2023) – The University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH) hosted one of the largest gatherings of atmospheric scientists and air-quality practitioners ever assembled during Air Quality Awareness Week, May 1-5.


More than 125 scientists and practitioners from across the world traveled to UAH, a part of The University of Alabama System, to participate in a Joint Science Meeting focused on the future of air-quality monitoring to better understand the air we breathe. 


“We are very pleased at UAH to be able to facilitate the confluence of this broad spectrum of air-quality scientists and practitioners at the advent of geostationary constellation observations for global cleaner air,” says Professor Michael Newchurch of UAH’s Department of Atmospheric and Earth Sciences.


Participants presented current research that uses NASA instrumentation to measure pollutants in the air in near real time. They also discussed future research plans. Gaining more insight into the rapidly changing concentration of pollutants in the air will provide information to help the public take precautions against aerosols and gas-phase pollutants to live healthier lives. 


UAH is a leader in the air-quality research community thanks to three of its key air-quality researchers. 

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Dr. Michael Newchurch presenting at the Joint Science Meeting
Courtesy Liz Junod/UAH


For 35 years, Newchurch has been working in air-quality research, including over the past decade with NASA’s Tropospheric Emissions: Monitoring of Pollution (TEMPO) instrument mission and NASA’s Tropospheric Ozone Lidar Network. 


In April, NASA launched TEMPO into geosynchronous orbit on a SpaceX Falcon9 booster. This instrument will collect hourly daytime observations of major air pollutants over greater North America starting this summer. 


The Tropospheric Ozone Lidar Network, established in 2012, is a network of ground sensors that collect data on the concentration of ozone pollutants from the surface up to the lowest level of the troposphere.


Professor Susan Alexander in UAH’s College of Nursing serves as an instrumental public health partner, studying the impacts of ozone and particulate matter on public health through the TEMPO Early Adopters program. 


Dr. Aaron Naeger of UAH’s Earth System Science Center is the deputy applications lead for TEMPO Early Adopters. This program engages the air-quality operational users and data scientists from across the world to help identify their needs and provide both data and analytic tools to use TEMPO instrument measurements. 


“UAH hosted the first the Tropospheric Emissions: Monitoring of Pollution Early Adopters workshop in 2016 and is now bringing together the Science and Early Adopter Teams of TEMPO along with the international geostationary air-quality missions in Korea and Europe,” Naeger says.


Meeting participants also began planning the next decades of air quality research. The attendees discussed their future air-quality observational needs for NOAA’s Geostationary Extended Observations atmospheric composition instrument, targeted for launch in the 2030 decade.