NCAR/UCAR hosts international atmospheric chemistry group

Partnership with private sector key to building community at this year's event

November 10, 2016 | Scientists at a recent international conference co-sponsored by NCAR|UCAR explored the latest research into such issues as urban air quality, the impact of drought on ozone, and the influence of emissions on climate.

The 14th International Global Atmospheric Chemistry Science Conference (IGAC 2016) marked the first time the event has been hosted by NCAR|UCAR. Nearly 500 of the world's top research scientists in atmospheric chemistry attended the weeklong conference in Breckenridge.

Themes this year included the impacts of urbanization, agriculture, and energy systems on atmospheric chemistry, as well as the relationships between atmospheric gases, particles, and climate change.

Research scientists from 36 countries participated in the conference. About 200 participants, or 40 percent, were early career or student scientists.

Scientists listen to talk at 2016 IGAC in Breckenridge
Research scientists from 36 countries attended the 2016 International Global Atmospheric Chemistry conference in Breckenridge. It was the first time the event had been hosted by NCAR|UCAR. (©UCAR. Photo by Carlye Calvin. This image is freely available for media & nonprofit use.)

The biennial conference covers topics relevant not only to the research community, but also to the private sector, and nearly a dozen businesses contributed funding and in-kind donations to help defray conference costs. The conference was coordinated by two UCAR Community Programs that have joined forces: the Joint Office for Science Support and Visiting Scientist Programs, and by NCAR's Atmospheric Chemistry Observations & Modeling lab (ACOM). The local organizing committee also was supported by Colorado State University, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and the University of Colorado Boulder.

"This conference became a great example of community building across different sectors," said Jill Reisdorf,  JOSS project coordinator. "The private sector sponsors really wanted to interact with the scientists because it helps them improve their products."

Take, for example, Picarro Inc., which provides instruments to measure greenhouse gases and other particles.

"For Picarro, it is important to understand the applications of our instruments and to receive first-hand feedback from the end users," said Milos Markovic, regional sales manager for the California-based company. He said the balance of poster sessions, technical talks, and social events provided a number of opportunities to interact with current and potential customers.

NCAR/ACOM scientist Christine Wiedinmyer, who led the organizing committee with Reisdorf, said one of the conference's big benefits is how it connects expertise across career levels. "This biennial conference provides excellent opportunities for senior scientists to interact with junior scientists," she said.

This was the first IGAC conference for Catherine Scott, a research fellow at the University of Leeds in England. "As an early career scientist, I found the opportunity to present my research to a substantial portion of the atmospheric composition community really valuable. It was great to get feedback from them and also to hear about the wide variety of atmospheric science going on around the world."

IGAC's mission is to facilitate research that leads toward a sustainable world, and many of the speakers stressed the importance of tackling issues relevant to society.

"Many of the presenting scientists were motivated by the desire to develop science that will be useful and relevant," Wiedinmyer said. "Each region has specific problems, but the general theme was the same."

NCAR scientists who spoke at the sessions included David Edwards, Mary Barth, and Rebecca Buchholz, all from ACOM.

The 2018 IGAC conference will be held in Japan.


Jeff Smith, Science Writer and Public Information Officer

Nonprofit and government agency sponsors

American Geophysical Union; Colorado State University; Lawrence Berkeley National Lab, Earth & Environmental Sciences Division; CIRES (Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences); National Center for Atmospheric Research; National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration; National Science Foundation; NASA; the Science Council of Japan; U.S. Department of Energy; the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research; and the World Meteorological Society and its Global Atmosphere Watch.

Private sector sponsors

Aerodyne Research Inc.; Ball; Droplet Measurement Technologies; Elementa; Handix Scientific; Harris; Hills-Scientific; Ionicon; New Belgium Brewing; Picarro; and 2B Technologies.