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Steve Hinnefeld
University Communications

Last modified: Thursday, July 7, 2011

IU researcher awarded NSF grant to study effect of forests on air pollution

July 7, 2011

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- The National Science Foundation has awarded a $760,000 grant to Indiana University Bloomington atmospheric scientist Sara C. Pryor and a colleague for research to improve understanding of the relationship between forests and pollution.

The three-year project, "Up-scaling from leaf to canopy the aerosol-sized particle collection mechanism within a non-uniform canopy medium," is a collaboration between Pryor and Gabriel Katul of Duke University. Approximately three-fourths of the grant will go to Indiana University.

Pryor is Provost Professor of Atmospheric Science in the Department of Geography in the IU College of Arts and Sciences and a researcher with the Center for Research in Environmental Sciences. She also is IU Bloomington associate vice provost for faculty and academic affairs.

Atmospheric aerosol particles represent one of the largest uncertainties in understanding the forces that influence climate, both historically and possibly in the future, Pryor said. A key process in determining concentrations is the removal of such particles by surfaces, known as dry deposition.

"Forests are particularly effective in removing particles from the atmosphere, but the rate of removal and the physical and biological controls on removal rates are rather uncertain," Pryor said. "This project will help to determine exactly how effective forests are at removing particles and thus will help to build better models capable of making better climate predictions."

MMSF Tower

Equipment atop the IU AmeriFlux Tower in Morgan-Monroe State Forest is being used to sample and measure particles.

Print-Quality Photo

The project will address key aspects of particle deposition onto forested surfaces using a combined experimental and modeling approach, resulting in improved process-level understanding of dry deposition of particles in forests.

Some of the experimental research for the project will be conducted in a chamber that will be located in the Multidisciplinary Science Building II on the IU Bloomington campus. Field research will be conducted at the IU AmeriFlux Tower in Morgan-Monroe State Forest north of Bloomington, and also in the Manitou Experimental Forest in Colorado as part of the international field experiment BEACHON (Bio-hydro-atmosphere interactions of Energy, Aerosols, Carbon, H2O, Organics and Nitrogen).

The IU Center for Research in Environmental Sciences is supported in part by the Office of the Vice Provost for Research at IU Bloomington.

To speak with Pryor, contact Steve Hinnefeld, Office of University Communications, at 812-856-3488 or