UI researcher wins funding to study regional air quality

UI researcher wins funding to study regional air quality

A University of Iowa researcher has been awarded $1.55 million to improve regional air quality monitoring from space.

Jun Wang, professor of chemical and biochemical engineering and James E. Ashton Professor in Engineering in the College of Engineering, has been part of NASA’s Tropospheric Emissions: Monitoring Pollution (TEMPO) mission since its inception in 2012. TEMPO is a space-based ultraviolet and visible spectrometer that will monitor major air pollutants, such as ozone and nitrogen dioxide, across North America every daylight hour. The instrument is scheduled to be launched into space aboard a commercial satellite later this year.

“Previously, what we could get from space is the aerosol optical depth that shows the total amount of aerosol mass from the Earth’s surface all the way to the top of the atmosphere,” says Wang, assistant director of Iowa Technology Institute. “However, what matters most is the amount of aerosols in the air we breathe at surface. This mission will help us better observe and forecast the quality of air we breathe by sensing the aerosol layer height information.”

Xi Chen, a postdoctoral researcher in Wang’s lab at the ITI, is a co-investigator.