DRI Researcher Earns National Science Foundation Major Research Instrumentation Grant

DRI Research Professor Hans Moosmüller, Ph.D. and colleagues from the University of Nevada, Reno and Michigan Technological University received $649,801 from the National Science Foundation Major Research Instrumentation (MRI) program to develop a Photo-Acoustic Light Absorption and Albedo Spectrometer (PALAAS) for the characterization of aerosol radiative forcing in the solar spectrum.

“The goal of this project is to develop this new instrument to detect in real time, the aerosol light absorption, scattering, and single scattering albedo spectra,” Moosmüller said.

The broader societal impacts of this project will provide researchers with the context to better understand how aerosols affect radiative forcing and climate change.

“This instrument will improve the quantification of aerosol radiative forcing over the solar spectrum, which currently causes the largest uncertainties in our understanding and modeling of global and regional climate change,” Moosmüller added.

Applications of PALAAS will include research into the optical properties of brown carbon, which is emitted in large quantities by smoldering biomass burning and has largely unknown optical properties; mineral dust, which by mass is the dominant ambient aerosol, and has a complex absorption spectrum; and the connection between aerosol absorption spectra and modification of snow and ice surface albedo spectra due to aerosol deposition.

Overview of the Photo-Acoustic Light Absorption and Albedo Spectrometer
Overview of the Photo-Acoustic Light Absorption and Albedo Spectrometer

MRI is a highly competitive program of the National Science Foundation that serves to increase access to shared scientific and engineering instruments for research and research training in U.S. institutions of higher education, museums, science centers, and not-for-profit organizations. This program was designed to improve the quality and expand the scope of research and research training in science and engineering, by providing shared instrumentation that fosters the integration of research and education in research-intensive learning environments.

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