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Partnerships for enhanced engagement in research (PEER) SCIENCE
Cycle 2 (2012 Deadline)

Impact of transboundary biomass burning pollution transport over the Central Andes of Peru

PI: Luis Suárez (Universidad Continental)
U.S. Partner: Detlev Helmig (University of Colorado at Boulder)
Project Dates: June 2013 to May 2015
 
Peru 1 
Ing. Suárez (back row, center), his students, and Universidad Continental Institute of Research Director Wilfredo Bulege (right) (Photo courtesy Ing. Suárez).
B
iomass burning is the main source of air pollutants in tropical regions, and researchers worldwide have worked to determine its possible effects on air quality and climate. The Amazon basin is among the regions with the greatest need to better understand the effects of the transport of pollutants on air quality, radiative forcing, and precipitation patterns. This PEER Science project will focus on monitoring forest fires and evaluating the adverse effects of the resulting smoke and ash on climate change. Ing. Suárez and his research collaborators will conduct field work at two contrasting sites in the Andean and Amazon regions of Peru. These activities will not only promote intensive cooperation among representatives of the three major Peruvian universities involved but will also give them new opportunities for collaborating with U.S. counterparts.  
 
The project will train and provide support for six Peruvian undergraduates and three Master's-level students as they work on their theses. Local laboratories will be upgraded with new equipment to facilitate a new long-term program for monitoring tropospheric ozone, aerosol optical depth, and ultraviolet spectral solar radiation at the Observatory at Huancayo. The researchers will make a detailed evaluation of tropospheric ozone and aerosol pollutants and will report to local policymakers on the these findings, particularly as they relate to the impacts of deforestation in the Amazon. A planning workshop will also be held to discuss the creation of a new Institute of Antarctic and Andean Research (INSTAAR) Peru, which will serve to promote the sustainability of research and policy studies on these topics even after the PEER Science project is completed.
 
Summary of Recent Activities
 
PI Luis Suárez began his project by selecting four undergraduate and two graduate students to participate in his research efforts (three from Universidad Continental, two from Universidad Nacional del Centro del Peru, and one from Universidad Alas Peruanas). A workshop held in October 2013 to present and coordinate the different research topics each student would address. Two months later, a training session was held to help students using Excel and Matlab refine their knowledge of computing and reporting tools. With regard to infrastructure building, the most important result of this initial phase of the project was the donation of three ozone sensors and a particulate matter sampling device by the German Weather Service.
 

Peru 1
Possible location (red circle) for aerosol sampling at the Observatory at Huancayo (Photo courtesy Ing. Suárez).
 

Peru 2
Dr. Marion Adeney (USAID/Peru), Ing. Luis Suárez, and Ms. Kelly Robbins (NAS) during a site visit to the Observatory at Huancayo, January 29, 2014 (photo courtesy of Dr. Adeney).

 
In the first four months of 2014, the team’s goal is to construct a long-term pollution monitoring station at the Huancayo Observatory, where the fieldwork for the study will take place. U.S. partner Dr. Detlev Helmig is scheduled to visit in April 2014 to oversee the installation of the donated tropospheric ozone instruments, including site selection, wiring, tubing, calibration of instruments, and data quality control. Dr. Helmig will also accompany Ing. Suárez on visits to other research groups doing measurements in the Peruvian Amazon and to a pair of towers built close to Puerto Maldonado for atmospheric measurements and ecological studies. The goal of the visits will be to select the site with the best logistical support for a tropospheric ozone monitoring effort complementary to that being launched in Huancayo.
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