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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 (Instituto Geofisico del Peru, formerly at Universidad Continental)
U.S. Partner: Detlev Helmig (University of Colorado at Boulder)
Project Dates: June 2013 to November 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

After a hiatus of almost one year due the PI’s move to the Observatory at Huancayo and the need to terminate his previous PEER grant and reissue it to his new institution, this project was formally reactivated as of December 2014. Even during the interim, however, Luis Suarez maintained regular contact with his U.S. partner, Detlev Helmig, to plan implementation of the air pollution monitoring system to be installed at their Andean and Amazon sites. Dr. Helmig and his assistant Jacques Hueber helped with procurement and have been working with the new instruments: aerosol particle counter, aethelometer (black carbon monitor), ozone monitor, and the data acquisition system. Locally Mr. Suarez was preparing the remote Amazon forest site where the new instruments will be installed on a 45-meter tower over the tree canopy.
 
 

Peru 1
PI Luis Suárez and U.S. partner Detlev Helmig making final preparations to install of the ozone monitors at the Huancayo Observatory (Photo courtesy Ing. Suárez).

Peru 2
A visit to one of the 60-meter tower sites at Rio Los Amigos Biological Research Station (Photo courtesy Ing. Suárez).

 
Meanwhile, Ing. Suarez also had the chance in recent months to interact with other research groups related to biomass burning. Meetings were held with Stephannie Kinney, director of the Andean Region of the International Cryosphere and Climate Initiative ICCI, and Dr. Luisa Molina from the Molina Center in order to provide support for air pollutant evaluation efforts, which mainly focus on black carbon concentrations. Ing. Suarez also met with Dr. Carl Schmitt from the National Center of Atmospheric Research to evaluate deposition of aerosols on snow-covered mountains close to Huancayo city. Also, based on the advances made under the PEER project on improving the air pollution monitoring capabilities of the Observatory of Huancayo, Ing. Suarez had the chance to interact with staff from NASA’s AERONET program in order to implement a high-precision sun photometer for monitoring optical, microphysical, and radiative properties of atmospheric aerosols. After the process of shipping the photometer was coordinated with Dr. Brent Holben, head of the AERONET program, technical staff member Jon Rodriguez arrived to Peru to install the device. It has been operating smoothly at the Observatory of Huancayo since March 19, 2015, and data can be accesed at bit.ly/aeronethyo. Also during this first quarter of 2015, Ing. Suarez worked to integrate his efforts with the increased research capabilities at the new created Laboratory of Atmospheric Microphysics and Radiation (LAMAR) of the Geophysical Institute of Peru. It is expected to focus on observations of surface fluxes for water and radiative balance, and in the coming months the new lab expects to install a dysdrometer (for studies of the size of raindrops) and a polarized radar for tracking storms and other weather events. Together with the instruments purchased by the PEER project, this will significantly improve the infrastructure for atmospheric research on this region. Training for human capacity development is still urgently needed.

In May 2015 Ing. Suarez will present a poster entitled "First tropospheric ozone measurements at the Observatory of Huancayo, Peru” at the NOAA ESRL Global Monitoring Annual Conference in Boulder, Colorado. Dr. Helmig will also attend, and the event will provide an opportunity for them to meet and discuss collaboration with other colleagues whose data would complement their own measurements. In connection with his PEER-sponsored participation in the Science Diplomacy Course organized in June 2015 by AAAS and TWAS at Trieste, Italy, Ing. Suarez will make a brief visit to the Institute of Atmospheric Sciences and Climate at Bologna to be trained on time series analysis under the supervision of Dr. Boyan Petkov. To complete his training, he will also attend the “Workshop on Modelling of Wildfires and their Environmental Impacts” in Trieste. Later this summer, he and his colleagues will launch the call for applications for the 4th edition of the National School of Atmospheric Research (4ENICA), which will run during the first two weeks of August. By that time, setup of the new instruments at the Amazon site should be complete and the spectral UV radiometer should be installed. Also, they should we have their first measurements of the chemical composition of aerosol, indicating the possible sources of air pollution. In that sense, they expect to consolidate their research group with local students and also with good quality data that will be publicly available online. Finally, Ing. Suarez expects to organize an internship for preparing a scientific paper for a recognized peer-reviewed journal, which could be carried out at the University of Colorado under the supervision of Dr. Detlev Helmig and his PhD students.

 
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