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  1. The geosciences have the lowest racial and ethnic diversity of all STEM fields at all levels of higher education, and atmospheric science is emblematic of this discrepancy. Despite a growing awareness of the problem, Black, Indigenous, people of color, persons with disabilities, women, and LGBTQIA+ persons continue to be largely absent in academic programs and in the geoscience workforce. There is a desire and need for new approaches, new entry points, and higher levels of engagement to foster a diverse community of researchers, scholars, and practitioners in atmospheric science. One challenge among many is that diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts are often siloed from many aspects of the scientific process, technical training, and scientific community. We have worked toward bridging this gap through the development of a new atmospheric science course designed to break down traditional barriers for entry into diversity, equity, and inclusion engagement by graduate students, so they emerge better prepared to address issues of participation, representation, and inclusion. This article provides an overview of our new course, focused on social responsibility in atmospheric science. This course was piloted during Fall 2021 with the primary objective to educate and empower graduate students to be “diversity champions” in our field. We describe 1) the rationale for a course of this nature within a graduate program, 2) course design and content, 3) service-learning projects, 4) impact of the course on students, and 5) scalability to other atmospheric science graduate programs. 
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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available September 1, 2024
  2. Browne, Eleanor (Ed.)

    Abstract. Agricultural emissions, including those from concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) for beef and dairy cattle, make up a large portion of the United States' total greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. However, many CAFOs reside in areas where methane (CH4) from oil and natural gas (ONG) complicates the quantification of CAFO emissions. Traditional approaches to quantify emissions in such regions often relied on inventory subtraction of other known sources. We compare the results of two approaches to attribute the CAFO CH4 emission rate from the total CH4 emission rate derived from an aircraft mass balance technique. These methods make use of the mixing ratio data of CH4, ethane (C2H6), and ammonia (NH3) that were collected simultaneously in-flight downwind of CAFOs in northeastern Colorado. The first approach, the subtraction method (SM), is similar to inventory subtraction, except the amount to be removed is derived from the observed C2H6 to CH4 ratio rather than an inventory estimate. The results from this approach showed high uncertainty, primarily due to how error propagates through subtraction. Alternatively, multivariate regression (MVR) can be used to estimate CAFO CH4 emissions using the NH3 emission rate and an NH3 to CH4 ratio. These results showed significantly less uncertainty. We identified criteria to determine the best attribution method; these criteria can support attribution in other regions. The final emission estimates for the CAFOs presented here were 13 ± 3 g of CH4 per head per hour and 13 ± 2 g of NH3 per head per hour. These estimates are higher than the inventory of the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and previous studies highlighting the need for more measurements of CH4 and NH3 emission rates.

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  5. Rapid production of formic acid in biomass burning smoke is not captured by the Master Chemical Mechanism (MCM) nor simplified GEOS-Chem chemistry, likely due to missing secondary chemical production.

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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available November 9, 2024
  6. Mentorship can be part of the solution to developing a more diverse global scientific workforce, but robust longitudinal evidence is limited. Developmental mentor network theory can advance our understanding of the impact of a wide range of mentors across social contexts by distinguishing between the content of mentorship support (eg career support) and the structural characteristics of an individual's mentor network (eg density of connections among mentors). We tested the influence of mentor network characteristics on longitudinal social integration into the Earth and environmental sciences, as indicated by science identity development (a key indicator of social integration) and graduate‐school applications in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics)‐related fields of study, based on a sample of 233 undergraduate women at nine universities in the US. Our findings indicated that belonging to close‐knit, larger, and skill‐focused mentorship networks creates a “sticky web” of social connections, providing information and resources that increase retention of college women in the Earth and environmental sciences. 
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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available July 26, 2024
  7. Abstract

    Previous research on the health and air quality impacts of wildfire smoke has largely focused on the impact of smoke on outdoor air quality; however, many people spend a majority of their time indoors. The quality of indoor air on smoke-impacted days is largely unknown. In this analysis, we use publicly available data from an existing large network of low-cost indoor and outdoor fine particulate matter (PM2.5) monitors to quantify the relationship between indoor and outdoor particulate air quality on smoke-impacted days in 2020 across the western United States (US). We also investigate possible regional and socioeconomic trends in this relationship for regions surrounding six major cities in the western US. We find indoor PM2.5concentrations are 82% or 4.2µg m−3(median across all western US indoor monitors for the year 2020; interquartile range, IQR: 2.0–7.2µg m−3) higher on smoke-impacted days compared to smoke-free days. Indoor/outdoor PM2.5ratios show variability by region, particularly on smoke-free days. However, we find the ratio of indoor/outdoor PM2.5is less than 1 (i.e. indoor concentrations lower than outdoor) at nearly all indoor-outdoor monitor pairs on smoke-impacted days. Although typically lower than outdoor concentrations on smoke-impacted days, we find that on heavily smoke-impacted days (outdoor PM2.5> 55µg m−3), indoor PM2.5concentrations can exceed the 35µg m−324 h outdoor standard set by the US Environmental Protection Agency. Further, total daily-mean indoor PM2.5concentrations increase by 2.1µg m−3with every 10µg m−3increase in daily-mean outdoor PM2.5.(median of statistically significant linear regression slopes across all western US monitor pairs; IQR: 1.0–4.3µg m−3) on smoke-impacted days. These results show that for indoor environments in the western US included in our analysis, remaining indoors during smoke events is currently an effective, but limited, strategy to reduce PM2.5exposure.

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  8. Wildfire smoke contains numerous different reactive organic gases, many of which have only recently been identified and quantified. Consequently, their relative importance as an oxidant sink is poorly constrained, resulting in incomplete representation in both global chemical transport models (CTMs) and explicit chemical mechanisms. Leveraging 160 gas-phase measurements made during the Western Wildfire Experiment for Cloud Chemistry, Aerosol Absorption, and Nitrogen (WE-CAN) aircraft campaign, we calculate OH reactivities (OHRs) for western U.S. wildfire emissions, smoke aged >3 days, smoke-impacted and low/no smoke-impacted urban atmospheres, and the clean free troposphere. VOCs were found to account for ∼80% of the total calculated OHR in wildfire emissions, with at least half of the field VOC OHR not currently implemented for biomass burning (BB) emissions in the commonly used GEOS-Chem CTM. To improve the representation of OHR, we recommend CTMs implement furan-containing species, butadienes, and monoterpenes for BB. The Master Chemical Mechanism (MCM) was found to account for 88% of VOC OHR in wildfire emissions and captures its observed decay in the first few hours of aging, indicating that most known VOC OH sinks are included in the explicit mechanisms. We find BB smoke enhanced the average total OHR by 53% relative to the low/no smoke urban background, mainly due to the increase in VOCs and CO thus promoting urban ozone production. This work highlights the most important VOC species for daytime BB plume oxidation and provides a roadmap for which species should be prioritized in next-generation CTMs to better predict the downwind air quality and health impacts of BB smoke. 
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  9. Abstract. The impact of biomass burning (BB) on the atmospheric burden of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) is highly uncertain. Here we apply the GEOS-Chemchemical transport model (CTM) to constrain BB emissions in the western USA at ∼ 25 km resolution. Across three BB emission inventorieswidely used in CTMs, the inventory–inventory comparison suggests that the totals of 14 modeled BB VOC emissions in the western USA agree with eachother within 30 %–40 %. However, emissions for individual VOCs can differ by a factor of 1–5, driven by the regionally averaged emissionratios (ERs, reflecting both assigned ERs for specific biome and vegetation classifications) across the three inventories. We further evaluate GEOS-Chemsimulations with aircraft observations made during WE-CAN (Western Wildfire Experiment for Cloud Chemistry, Aerosol Absorption and Nitrogen) andFIREX-AQ (Fire Influence on Regional to Global Environments and Air Quality) field campaigns. Despite being driven by different global BBinventories or applying various injection height assumptions, the model–observation comparison suggests that GEOS-Chem simulations underpredictobserved vertical profiles by a factor of 3–7. The model shows small to no bias for most species in low-/no-smoke conditions. We thus attribute thenegative model biases mostly to underestimated BB emissions in these inventories. Tripling BB emissions in the model reproduces observed verticalprofiles for primary compounds, i.e., CO, propane, benzene, and toluene. However, it shows no to less significant improvements for oxygenatedVOCs, particularly for formaldehyde, formic acid, acetic acid, and lumped ≥ C3 aldehydes, suggesting the model is missing secondarysources of these compounds in BB-impacted environments. The underestimation of primary BB emissions in inventories is likely attributable tounderpredicted amounts of effective dry matter burned, rather than errors in fire detection, injection height, or ERs, as constrained by aircraftand ground measurements. We cannot rule out potential sub-grid uncertainties (i.e., not being able to fully resolve fire plumes) in the nestedGEOS-Chem which could explain the negative model bias partially, though back-of-the-envelope calculation and evaluation using longer-term groundmeasurements help support the argument of the dry matter burned underestimation. The total ERs of the 14 BB VOCs implemented in GEOS-Chem onlyaccount for half of the total 161 measured VOCs (∼ 75 versus 150 ppb ppm−1). This reveals a significant amount of missing reactiveorganic carbon in widely used BB emission inventories. Considering both uncertainties in effective dry matter burned (× 3) and unmodeledVOCs (× 2), we infer that BB contributed to 10 % in 2019 and 45 % in 2018 (240 and 2040 Gg C) of the total VOC primaryemission flux in the western USA during these two fire seasons, compared to only 1 %–10 % in the standard GEOS-Chem. 
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