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NASA, NOAA Announce Opportunity for Media to Preview Airborne Air Quality Study

The second phase of the FIREX-AQ airborne campaign will focus on the effects of smoke from agricultural fires in the southeastern United States, such as those shown in this March 2018 image from NASA’s Aqua satellite. Actively burning areas are shown as red dots. Credits: NASA

Media are invited to a behind-the-scenes look at the second phase of a major field campaign to study the impacts of U.S. wildfires and agricultural fires on air quality and climate. The media event will take place Tuesday, Aug. 20, in Salina, Kansas.

Smoke from wildfires in the western U.S. and agricultural fires in the southern U.S. has become an increasingly significant air quality issue affecting the public. The Fire Influence on Regional to Global Environments and Air Quality (FIREX-AQ) airborne campaign, jointly led by NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), brings together scientists to collect measurements from aircraft, satellites and ground-based instruments of emissions from wildfires and prescribed fires.

The second part of FIREX-AQ will look at smoke from agricultural burns in the South with flights from the Salina Regional Airport beginning in late August. There are hundreds of agricultural fires every year near population centers, but their relatively small size means they often go undetected by satellites that provide the basis for estimates of smoke emissions. The first part of the campaign began in July with flights from Boise, Idaho.

Scientists will use data from FIREX-AQ to understand how fuel and fire conditions at the point of ignition influence the chemistry of smoke, what happens to smoke as it enters the atmosphere, and how the chemical transformation of smoke affects air quality and – to a lesser extent – weather downwind.

The media event will take place from 10 to 11 a.m. CDT at Salina Regional Airport, Hangar 600, 2720 Arnold Ct. in Salina. Highlights include a briefing by NASA and NOAA mission scientists, as well as a tour of NASA’s DC-8 flying laboratory, with an opportunity to meet the pilots. Immediately following the media event, there will be a FIREX-AQ open house for the local community.

Media interested in attending must contact Joe Atkinson no later than 5 p.m. EDT Tuesday, Aug. 13, at 757-864-5644 or joseph.s.atkinson@nasa.gov. International journalists must submit a photo copy of their passport, the name of their media organization, and a point of contact to confirm their affiliation.

For more information about FIREX-AQ, visit:

https://www.esrl.noaa.gov/csd/projects/firex-aq/

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