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Real-Time AQ Forecasting

Earth System Modeling


UGPN Workshop, April 8, 2016


NCSU-Hebei Univ Summer School, August 21-24,2017



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Current Projects

  • EPA (Environmental Protection Agency)
  •       Intercontinental Transport and Climate Effects of Air Pollutants
    Phase I, March, 2005-May, 2006, Co-Principal Investigator
    Phase II, May, 2006-May, 2007, Principal Investigator

          In this project, we are developing an integrated chemistry/transport/meteorology modeling system to study the impacts of air pollution on regional climate. The modeling system will provide the state-of-science model physics for meteorology, chemistry, and microphysics of aerosols and clouds, and will be applied for studying the impacts of aerosols on regional climate and the interactions among air quality, regional climate, and meteorology over the contiguous U.S. and Pacific regions.


  • NOAA (National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration)
  •       Development of a research-grade air quality forecasting system based on weather research and forecast model, 2004-2007, Principal Investigator.

          In this project, we will incorporate several state-of-the science gas-phase chemical mechanisms; a new aerosol module and a comprehensive aqueous-phase chemistry module will be incorporated into NOAA’s WRFAQV1. The objectives are (1) to develop a state-of-the-science AQFS capable of forecasting both gaseous and PM species in short- and long-term and (2) to apply it for research-grade studies and real-time operational AQF.

    animation of vis5d

    Wind field and PM2.5 spatial distribution predicted by WRF/Chem-MADRID for the TexAQS-2000 episode. Courtesy of Xiaoming Hu

    • CARB (California Air Resources Board)

          California Regional PM10/PM2.5 Air Quality Study, 2005-2006, Subcontractor (with AER and Stanford University).
          The is a joint project among Atmospheric and Environmental Research, Inc. (AER), NCSU and Stanford University.  The team has been recently awarded by the California Air Resources Board (CARB) on behalf of the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Study Agency on the Modeling Analysis of Data Captured during the California Regional PM10/PM2.5 Air Quality Study Field Program (CRPAQS).  The CRPAQS is a multi-year program of meteorological and air quality monitoring, emission inventory development, data analysis, and air quality simulation modeling. Using 3-D PM models, CMAQ ( and CMAQ-MADRID (, the research team will address question 5 in the RFP: How well do air-quality models estimate measured pollutant concentrations (gaseous concentrations, total mass of PM10 and PM2.5, and mass of components of PM, etc.)? NCSU Air Quality Forecasting group (AQF Lab) will conduct numerical simulations with the CMAQ-MADRID multiple particle size sections.  The results will be compared and analyzed to investigate the effect of the particle size resolution on model performance.  This task will be completed by December 31, 2005.

    IC_Fresno equilibrium

    Measured and predicted size-resolved chemical composition by equilibrium approaches at Fresno in Dec, 2000. Courtesy of Xiaoming Hu


    • NSF (National Science Foundation)
          Forecasting chemical weather with a coupled meteorology-chemistry model system: research and education challenges, 2004-2009, Principal Investigator.

        In this 5-year project,  NCSU Air Quality Forecasting group is developing a state-of-the-science AQF model system that is capable of forecasting both O3 and PM in short- and long-term and that is applicable for both research-grade studies and real-time operational forecasts.  The AQF model system will be first developed based on the existing NOAA’s Weather Research and Forecast Air Quality (WRFAQ) prediction system and then tested, in both retrospective and forecast modes, with testbeds representative of different emissions, chemistry and meteorology in the U.S.  A number of sensitivity simulations will be conducted. The proposed research will significantly enhance the fundamental understanding of O3 and PM, their controlling processes and non-linear interactions, improve the capabilities of air quality models in reproducing and forecasting them, and advance the new discipline of forecasting encompassing weather, climate, air quality, and precipitation forecasting.





    Predicted daily average nitrate in PM2.5 on Aug. 29, 2000 from simulation of WRF/Chem-MADRID with equilibrium and dynamic mass transfer approach. Courtesy of Xiaoming Hu

          Using Satellite Data and Models to Study the Effects of Regional Pollution on Global Climate and Vice-Versa, 2004-2007, Co-Principal Investigator (with Stanford University).

        This is a joint project among Stanford University, NCSU and Atmospheric and Environmental Research, Inc. to use satellite data with models to address a key Earth System Enterprise science question, “What are the effects of regional pollution on the global atmosphere and the effects of global chemical and climate change on regional air quality?” The project involves three major task areas: gathering and gridding appropriate satellite and in-situ data for comparison with models, comparing models on the global and regional scales with the satellite retrievals and the in-situ data, and using the models to address the science question listed. The effect of global chemical and climate change on regional air quality will be evaluated with a nested global-through-urban scale air pollution/climate/weather forecast model, GATOR-GCMM (GATOR), for climate changes over 50 years. The effects of regional pollution on the global atmosphere will be examined using two regional models, CMAQ ( and CMAQ-MADRID ( A number of sensitivity tests will be run under both current and future climate and emission conditions.

    • USDA (U.S. Department of Agriculture)
          Characterization and Fate of Ammonia and Hydrogen Sulfide from Animal Feeding Operations: Their Emissions, Transport, Transformation, Deposition and Impact on Fine Particulate Matter (PMfine), 2004-2007, Co-Investigator.

        This project is funded under the National Research Initiative (NRI) Integarted Air Quality Program sponsored by the United States Department of Agriculture.  The research team is led by Dr. Viney Aneja (Dr. Aneja) and comprises of air quality, agricultural and environmental scientist to study the simultaneous emissions and fate of ammonia and hydrogen sulfide from confined animal feeding operations (CAFOs).  The research includes both in-situ chemical and physical measurements and 3-D air quality modeling.  Improvements in the quantification of atmospheric sources and sinks of these compounds suggested by these measurements will be synthesized and incorporated in a comprehensive regional air quality model to assess the fate of these emissions on a regional basis, to provide quantitative estimates of the atmospheric budgets of these compounds, and to assess the potential impacts on fine particulate matter (PM) levels arising from changes in emissions associated with changes in future agricultural practices.  It will enhance the understanding of the fate and transport of emissions from CAFOs related to gases, odor and PM.

    precipitation Ashley

    ammonia Ashley

    nitrate Ashley

    sulfate Ashley

    Comparison of the monthly-averaged observed and predicted values of precipitation and wet deposition of NH4+, NO3-, and SO42- from August, 2002. Courtesy of Ashley Queen

    Pending Proposals
    • NSF

          CMG Collaborative research: use of novel numerical techniques to assess uncertainties in 3-D PM modeling: sensitivity analysis probabilistic evaluation and data assimilation, new award, August 2006-July 2009, PI. (in collaboration with Dr. Adrian Sandu of Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University).

    Completed Projects

    • NASA/EOS (Subcontract through Battelle/PNNL)
          Impact of Aerosol Size Representations on Simulations of Aerosol Dynamics and Radiative Forcing, 2003 (supplemental funding), Principal Investigator.
    • CRC (Coordinating Research Council, Inc.)       
          Particulate Matter Model Improvements, 2002, Co-Principal Investigator.
    • NASA/EOS (Subcontract through Battelle/PNNL)                                                       
    Impact of Aerosol Size Representations on Simulations of Aerosol Dynamics and Radiative Forcing, 2000-2002, Principal Investigator.
    • CRC (Coordinating Research Council, Inc.)
          Evaluation of Probing Tools for Air Quality Modeling, 2001, Co-Principal Investigator (with ENVIRON, Inc. and University of California, Riverside).
    • NASA/EOS                                                                                                               
    Photochemical Modeling in Support of the PEM-Tropics B Campaign, 1998-2000, Co-Investigator.
    • NASA/EOS (Subcontract through Battelle/PNNL)                                                       
          Evaluation of Impact of Aerosol Size Representations and Heterogeneous Chemistry on Global Simulations of Aerosol Radiative Forcing, 1997-1999, Principal Investigator.
    • DOE/PNNL                                                                                                              
          A Multidisciplinary Investigation of Heterogeneous Atmospheric Processes, 1994-1996, Co-Principal Investigator.

    Summer Undergraduate Research Program

    Sponsored by the U.S. NSF, this program is to foster undergraduate education and to implement the interdisciplinary and reality-based educational plan at an early stage.  Dr. Zhang will instruct undergraduate students for research each summer starting 2004 with hands-on research projects and activities. Through her course teaching, the P.I. will actively recruit students who display strong interests in air quality issues but from crossing disciplines such as meteorology, environmental and chemical engineering, chemistry, mathematics and computer sciences.  A special effort will be made towards recruitment of women and minorities from those disciplines.  Two outstanding undergraduate students will be selected each year to conduct research on air quality in the AQF lab. Dr. Zhang will first discuss with selected students to find out their specific interests and anticipations, and then assign them a well-defined project that is based on authentic research projects on air quality.  In addition to P.I.’s mentorship, the selected undergraduate students will work with graduate students in a research environment.  The student mentorship not only promotes undergraduate students’ learning but also provides graduate students opportunities to learn supervising skills including advising junior students, managing subtasks and conveying research ideas/results, all these will be a necessary part of their education and career development.  At the end of the program, the performance of undergraduate students will be evaluated by the faculty and graduate student mentors. In addition, each student will be required to submit a short project report and feedback on this program for further improvements.

    Summer, 2007

    The 3-D air quality modeling approach is very new for me. I have gained a lot about how to process dataset though running computer programs. Both the faculty instructor and the graduate student mentor are working hard and attentive to me, which impressed me most. What’s more, the AQFL is productive and efficient. Giving me a more week, I could learn more and do something deeper. I would recommend this faculty instructor and this program to other undergraduate students. Thank you for your help, AQFLers!

    - Jie Chen, Junior Undergraduate Student, Zhejiang University, China

    Summer, 2005

    The summer research opportunity is an excellent opportunity to gain practical experience in Air Quality Forecasting and to evaluate the skills that I need to work on to become more competitive for Graduate School and in the workplace.

    - Danny Hamilton, Senior Undergraduate Student, MEAS

    This is a great way to get exposure, experience, and knowledge about air quality forecasting. The lab group members are very helpful. It is great to have a professor that is so attentive to you and your desire to learn more. I had a great time this summer, and would suggest anyone who is interested to apply to work with the group.

    - Evelyn Frazier, Junior Undergraduate Student, MEAS

    Summer, 2004

    I would greatly encourage anyone who may want to learn more about air quality or is not sure what they wish to pursue to look into the AQF Lab.  One word of caution, self-motivation is a must in the lab because of the independent work you will be expected to complete.  However, it is an excellent way to learn more about the topic of air quality and the advances being made from Dr. Zhang who is familiar to both the academic and industrial side of things.  From the experience, you take away not only a better understanding of the topic you are researching but the process of research and development as a whole.

    - Ashley Queen, Senior Undergraduate Student, MEAS, NCSU

    This undergraduate research program is an in depth exposure to the ground-breaking research in atmospheric chemistry.  Students will gain an understanding of how intricate the workings of a chemical/meteorological model are.  It also allows for a powerful outlet to communicate your work to the University through the Summer Undergraduate Research Symposium.

    - Chris Misenis, Senior Undergraduate Student, MEAS, NCSU

    Research Sponsors

    Federal Agencies/Laboratories:
    National Science Foundation (NSF)
    National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)
    Department of Energy (U.S. DOE)
    National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

    Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA)
    Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL)
    U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)

    State/local Agencies:
    California Air Resources Board (CARB)/San Joaquin Valleywide Air Pollution Study Agency (SJVAPSA)

    Private Sectors:
    Coordinating Research Council, Inc. (CRC)           
    Electric & Power Research Institute (EPRI)