Research Projects

Air quality and climate change in Africa

With support from the National Science Foundation and the US State Department, we have started an air quality monitoring network in Kinshasa, DR Congo, a megacity with population over 11 million which suffers from poor air quality yet has no monitoring infrastructure. Other projects include air quality knowledge capacity building in Accra, Ghana (partner with Ghana EPA), sensor deployments in Nairobi, Kenya, Kampala, Uganda, and Lomé, Togo, and using models and remote sensing techniques in India, China, and sub-Saharan Africa.

Regional climate response to changes in regional aerosol emissions

We are key members of the Regional Aerosol Model Intercomparison Project, or RAMIP as well as the Heterogeneous Climate Forcing project or HETCLIF. Some topics we have worked on in the past include: 1) The impact of changes in emissions in specific regions on local and remote climate, 2) Aerosol impacts on clouds and precipitation and 3) The effect of absorbing aerosols on tropical monsoon systems.

Atmospheric chemistry modeling and remote sensing

A new project in collaboration with Prof. V Faye McNeill's group at Columbia (Lead PI) will develop the Columbia University Atmospheric Chemistry Model Reduction (AMORE) algorithm, an automated tool for flexibly generating accurate condensed chemical mechanisms for use in atmospheric chemistry and air quality models. We will apply AMORE to develop an updated condensed gas-phase isoprene oxidation mechanism, and implement it into GEOS-Chem and CMAQ in order to study the impact of using condensed mechanisms on simulations of ozone, PM and components, and the air toxic HCHO.

Clean Air Monitoring and Solutions Network (CAMS-Net)

The Clean Air Monitoring and Solutions Network, or CAMS-Net, is a National Science Foundation-funded project aimed at creating an international “network of networks” that will facilitate the exchange of knowledge, ideas, and data in order to improve the usage and application of low-cost sensor air quality data. 

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East and West Africa Air Quality Community of Practice

Our specific goals are threefold: 1) to establish a mutual exchange of knowledge and data between all project partners and key actors in East African cities; 2) develop  innovative curricula for an air quality management certificate program which will train current policymakers, administrators and other key actors as well as more specialized learning materials for the next generation of East African scientists; and 3) build on and help coordinate efforts to co-produce key building blocks for Air Quality Management Plans (AQMPs) in each city and co-implement an AQMP for at least one East Afr

Machine Learning to evaluate the information content of satellite data for fine particle estimates in India

Motivation: Given the sparse ground-level measurements of fine particle (PM2.5) mass and composition over India, we explore the potential to glean insights into air pollution sources by combining satellite retrievals of tropospheric trace gases and aerosols.

Primary objective: Determine whether tropospheric trace gas columns retrieved from satellite instruments can increase the accuracy of ground-level fine particle estimates inferred from satellite aerosol optical depth.

Led by postdoc Dr. Zhonghua Zheng. 

Saharan air layer and dust transport to Puerto Rico

In collaboration with University of Puerto Rico at Mayagüez, we are working on characterizing dust concentrations during major dust events over Puerto Rico associated with the Saharan Air Layer. The Saharan air layer (SAL) carries dry, dusty air from the Sahara Desert, which can travel
thousands of miles across the Atlantic Ocean. PM 10 is most common in Saharan dust, leading to
health concerns and reduced visibility. Due to its geographical location, Puerto Rico is
particularly impacted by SAL during the months of June through September. Despite its

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Westervelt Aerosol Group

Cities we are working in include: 

Nairobi, Kenya, Kampala, Uganda, Kinshasa, D.R. Congo, Brazzaville, R. Congo, Accra, Ghana, Kigali, Rwanda, Lome, Togo, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia; Kolkata, Indore, and Chennai India; Jakarta, Indonesia