Who Are We?

SOAS is comprised of a collaborative team of scientists and filmmakers with the same goals in mind: to better understand biosphere-atmosphere interactions and to convey these ideas in a way that the general public can not only understand, but find engaging.

We come from numerous colleges/universities and institutions from around the world, such as:

Aerodyne Research, Inc.
Atmospheric Research & Analysis, Inc.
California Institute of Technology
Colorado State University
Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule Zürich
Electric Power Research Institute
Georgia Institute of Technology
Kent State University
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
National Science Foundation
National Center for Atmospheric Research
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
North Carolina State University
Oakland University
Pennsylvania State University
Purdue University
Reed College
Research Triangle Institute
Rice University
Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey
Southern Company
Stony Brook University – SUNY
Texas A&M University
University of Colorado – Boulder
University of California – Berkeley
University of California – Irvine
University of California – Los Angeles
University of California – Riverside
University of California – San Diego
University of Eastern Finland
University of Iowa
University of Washington Bothell
University of Wisconsin – Madison
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
Utrecht University, Netherlands
Washington University in St. Louis
West Chester University of Pennsylvania
Western Michigan University

What is SOAS?

SOAS is a “grass roots” field campaign. It stands for the Southern Oxidant and Aerosol Study. It is a six-week field campaign taking place in Alabama during the summer of 2013 that focuses on the study of biosphere-atmosphere interactions (Figure 1).

Figure 1.
Figure 1.

The main science questions of SOAS, as outlined in the SOAS White Paper (PDF), are:

  • What are the magnitudes, variations, and controlling processes for biosphere‐atmosphere fluxes of oxidants and reactive carbon and nitrogen across spatial scales relevant to air quality and climate?
  • What are the chemical and physical processes that control the oxidation of biogenic volatile organic compounds (BVOCs)? How do anthropogenic emissions alter the distribution of the BVOC oxidation products, and what are the implications for the formation of ozone, reactive nitrogen, and aerosol precursors?
  • To what extent do anthropogenic influences impact biogenic secondary organic aerosol (SOA) formation?
  • How does aqueous chemistry and cloud processing of BVOCs and related aerosols influence atmospheric SOA?
  • What are the climate‐relevant properties of biogenic aerosol (VOC of biogenic origin)?

To learn more about the different research that will take place during SOAS 2013, read the abstracts (PDF).

When is SOAS?

The official start and end dates of the SOAS summer field campaign are June 1 – July 15, 2013.

Where is SOAS?

SOAS will take place in a forested area (Figure 2) near Brent, Alabama. This forested area is part of the Talladega National Forest.


Figure 2: SOAS ground site location (red star) with surrounding land cover: water (dark blue), lowland forest (light blue), upland forest (green), evergreen plantation (purple), cropland and urban (yellow).

Why Are We Doing This and Why Should You Care?

The Southeastern U.S. has been a focus area in classic and historic atmospheric field studies. Natural emissions of organic compounds (e.g., isoprene and monoterpenes) in the Southeast are high, rivaling rates in tropical areas. The location is ideal to study biogenic‐anthropogenic interactions (Figure 1), due to the proximity of natural emissions with a variety of anthropogenic pollution sources.

The Southeast has not warmed like other regions of the U.S. in response to global climate change (rather, the region has experienced a cooling trend). The anomaly may arise for a variety of reasons. A recent hypothesis is that the climate anomaly may be due to the radiative effects of aerosols derived from biogenic volatile organic compounds (BVOCs).

To understand the causal relationships resulting in this trend, as a community we must ask: 1) What sources and processes control the fate of biogenic compounds in anthropogenically‐influenced environments? 2) What are the climate‐relevant properties and air quality impacts?

SOAS collaborative efforts will yield more accurate model parameters, thus improving air quality management and climate forecasts.

How Are We Going to Accomplish All of This?

The current plan includes a regional air quality surface site, a nearby flux tower (within 1 km), aircrafts, and coordinated modeling efforts.

The National Science Foundation, the Environmental Protection Agency, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the Electric Power Research Institute have invested more than $20 million to cover costs associated with the deployment of the NSF/NCAR C-130 (150 research hours), the NOAA P3 (100+ hours), Purdue’s Duchess aircraft, and Stonybrook’s Long-EZ, an Integrated sounding system (ISS) (100+ sondes), flux and platform towers. There are 3 surface super sites, 1.) SEARCH network air-quality monitoring site near Brent, Alabama, 2.) Look Rock, TN and 3.) Research Triangle Park, NC. The NSF/NCAR C-130 and NOAA P3 will be deployed from Symrna, TN. The aircraft campaigns and super sites are together called the Southeast Atmosphere Study (SAS).

Answering the SOAS science questions also requires that we collaborate freely by sharing our data. Our vision for the chemistry and climate modeling activities is to build a common emission, land use, and meteorology dataset such that different modeling approaches can be tested and compared. This is named the SOAS Common Modeling Dataset. As people improve these datasets over the course of the analysis, we ask that they contribute them back to a common archive, so as a modeling community we can leverage each others advances.