Air Quality & Climate

Air Quality & Climate

Chemical engineers have the tools to advance science and solutions in the areas of climate change and environmental systems. The Department of Chemical and Biochemical Engineering has a world-class research program in the science and engineering of air pollution, links between climate and air pollution, remote sensing and simulation of aerosol pollution, aerosol-cloud interactions, and pollution-weather interactions.  Our atmospheric environmental research activities span many scales – from liter-sized atmospheric chemistry and cloud experiments in the lab, to field campaigns and simulations at the urban/regional scale, all the way up to global scale models and satellite remote sensing. The department has in-house expertise to run and improve a wide range of Earth system models from GEOS-Chem at global scale to WRF-Chem and WRF-CMAQ at the regional scale to the GEOS-Chem adjoint and WRF-CMAQ adjoint for the inverse modeling In 2021, we inaugurated the Climate/Atmospheric Science and Engineering (CASE) Colloquium

Novel contributions from Iowa researchers have focused on integrating of satellite data and field campaign data with models (including data assimilation) and novel development of satellite algorithms for air quality monitoring and aerosol forcing studiesRecent and ongoing projects include the development of WRF-Chem model with an unified model initial and boundary conditions for the NASA’s MAIA mission, application of satellite data for inverse modeling enabling rapid update of anthropogenic emissions, ozone air quality management in the Lake Michigan region, aerosol and ozone formation from personal care product oxidation, improvements to parameterizations for injection of fires into simulations aerosol/cloud microphysics parameterization, irrigation schemes, soil NOx emission schemes, and more. 

Many of our simulations and data assimilation systems rely on the Iowa High Performance Computing Center, a home grown resource with over 10,000 compute nodes. The HPC has over 1 petabyte of total storage and 150+ TB of storage with priority availability to CBE researchers. Research is facilitated by several research centers, including the Center for Global and Regional Environmental Research, IIHR Hydroscience and Engineering, and the Iowa Technology Institute. Rich interdisciplinary connections thrive in air quality and climate research at Iowa, with collaborators in College of Public Health, the College of Medicine, the School of Planning and Public Affairsand in the Departments of Chemistry, Physics, Earth and Environmental Science, and Geographical and Sustainability Studies.  

Fun fact: The well-known Kinetic Pre Processor (KPP) package was initially developed in the University of Iowa and has now been used in many chemistry transport models around the worldhttps://people.cs.vt.edu/asandu/Software/Kpp/http://wiki.seas.harvard.edu/geos-chem/index.php/KPP_solvers_FAQ