Current Research Projects

Optical Properties of Aerosol Particles

My group is developing state of the art instrumentation to measure how much light is absorbed and scattered by aerosol particles.  This information is critical to understanding the climate system and global climate change.  Absorbing aerosol heats the climate directly, by changing the albedo of snow, and by impacting cloud formation.  Instruments under development include a the ASTER (Aerosol Scattering to Extinction Ratio) instrument which measures the single scattering albedo of individual particles, a photo-acoustic aerosol absorption spectrometer which measures aerosol absorption by monitoring sound waves created when the air is heated, and a Cavity Attenuated Phase Shift (CAPS) aerosol spectrometer which measures aerosol extinction in a manner similar to cavity ringdown.  These instruments are slated to be deployed on several field projects including projects at the Fire Lab in Montana, the Elk Mountain Observatory, and on the King Air Research Aircraft.  


The recent expansion of oil and gas exploration through hydraulic fracturing in Wyoming and Utah has led to events that form high ozone and particulate concentrations in the atmosphere.  This project focuses on determining the formation mechanism and chemistry of the aerosol particles formed during these events by using an aerosol mass spectrometer deployed to a field site in the Uintah Basin shown at left


Particle Formation From Gas/Oil Operations

Development of a Novel Optical Particle Counter for Balloon and Antarctic Measurements (proposed, funding pending)

In collaboration with Dr. Terry Deshler, we aim to develop an optical particle counter (OPC) for field measurements of stratospheric and tropospheric aerosol on balloon platforms and remote Antarctic research stations.  These measurements are critical for understanding the impact of stratospheric aerosol on ozone concentrations and for determining the impact of future volcanic eruptions and proposed geo-engineering solutions to global climate change based on increasing stratospheric aerosol