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    Air quality forecasts and attainment projections rely upon semi-empirical parameterizations within numerical models for the description of dispersion, formation and fate of pollutants influenced by the spatial and temporal distribution of emissions in cities, the topography, and weather. The particulate matter (PM) mass measured at the ground level is a common way to quantify the amount of aerosol particles in the atmosphere and is used as a standard to evaluate air quality. PM forecasting needs a thorough understanding of the processes affecting aerosol concentrations as well as vertically-resolved measurements in the atmospheric column.

    Lidar measurements at Hampton University have supported local, state and federal agencies to determine the relative impact of long-range transport versus local emissions. These efforts allows gain insight into interstate transport and direct policy decisions towards fair and equitable emission control strategies. Lidar activities are key support component of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Center for Earth Systems Sciences and Remote Sensing Technology  to monitor and study regional and urban air quality in the eastern United States.  This work contributes to NOAA’s “Weather Ready Nation” goal and addresses the following objectives within this goal: 1) “Healthy people and communities through improved air and water quality”, and 2) “Reduced loss of life, property, and disruption from high-impact events”.

    Lidar provides high resolution information on the altitude dependence of troposphere aerosols and water vapor, providing  precise measurements in regions of the lower atmosphere above a city, which would inaccessible to either aircraft or tethered balloons. Retrieved aerosol and trace gas profiles are used to derive variations of the atmospheric structure and transport, gaining knowledge in their effects on climate and air quality. These measurements provide insight into the planetary boundary layer (PBL) temporal structure, height and variability. Regarding air quality, the PBL height determines the volume available for pollutant dispersion and the resulting concentrations and is therefore one of the fundamental parameters in many dispersion models.

    HU is leading the Unified Ceilometer Network (UCN), a collaboration between the Hampton University, the University of Maryland-Baltimore County (UMBC), the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and National Atmospheric and Oceanic Administration (NOAA) on a ground-based ceilometer network to support activities that will provide a comprehensive three-dimensional assessment of the chemical and dynamical processes in the lower atmosphere that can aid future policy decisions and strategies to key questions on the influence of gases and aerosols in air quality, atmospheric composition and climate.

    HU lidar observations when used in conjunction with satellite data can be assimilated into forecasting models to reproduce current distributions of aerosols and oxidants in urban areas and to improve their accuracy in forecasting air quality and understanding regional pollution dynamics.  Also, provides ground truth for satellite retrieval over areas with high surface albedo, allowing instrument accuracy assessments of regional water vapor , trace gases and aerosol variability.