Office of Naval Research awards $7.5 million for aerosol studies

Example image of detection of a dust storm over Iraq, Aug. 31, 2015. CSU researchers will begin research of aerosol impacts over coastal regions. (Credit: Steve Miller, CIRA/CSU)

The Office of Naval Research has awarded Colorado State University researchers $7.5 million to characterize and analyze aerosol properties in coastal and offshore regions.

The five-year award, called a Multidisciplinary University Research Initiative (MURI), will support scientists at CSU’s Cooperative Institute for Research in the Atmosphere (CIRA) and the Department of Atmospheric Science. They are studying the “littoral” zone, which encompasses coastal areas closest to shore.

Aerosols in the littoral zone

Understanding aerosol properties in the littoral zone has several key impacts for the Navy, including aircraft operations, security and special operations, and critically, the propagation of electromagnetic radiation, including the use of shipboard laser systems.

CIRA Deputy Director Steve Miller is the MURI’s principal investigator; Professor Sue van den Heever and University Distinguished Professor Sonia Kreidenweis, along with CIRA researcher Milija Zupanski, are co-principal investigators. The team will work closely with researchers at the Naval Research Laboratory in Monterey to couple their basic research findings with the needs of operational end-users.

The MURI Team assembled by CSU includes researchers from the University of North Dakota, the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, and the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Broad expertise

Together, the team offers a broad range of expertise including the ability to: accurately characterize the complex chemical properties of littoral aerosols; use research models to predict the dynamics of aerosol propagation; apply sophisticated satellite algorithms to detect and retrieve information about dust storms and aerosol-laden air masses from space; and integrate these observations into numerical weather prediction models.

The research is expected to become part of the Navy’s operational model, and benefit not only the specific challenges of naval operations, but the forecasting and atmospheric science community at large.