Nicole Riemer: Modeling Aerosol Dynamics With ARM Data

Published: 4 August 2020

A university modeler of aerosol behavior leans on ARM measurements

Nicole Riemer, aerosol modeler
Nicole Riemer, an aerosol modeler at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, studies the complexities of how atmospheric particles form, grow, move, and change.

Nicole Riemer, a professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, studies and models how aerosols behave in the atmosphere, a subject she calls “endlessly fascinating.”

Riemer’s research investigates how aerosols influence weather and climate and how to best represent those tiny atmospheric particles in computer models.

So far, she has worked on four projects funded by Atmospheric System Research (ASR) at the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). Riemer pursues these ASR studies with her husband, Matthew West, an applied mathematician and associate professor at Illinois.

The latest Riemer-West project uses a model the couple pioneered―15 years in the making―to simulate aerosols down to the level of individual particles. The work relies on particle measurements from field campaigns sponsored by DOE’s Atmospheric Radiation Measurement (ARM) user facility.

For instance, Riemer uses a lot of data from ARM’s 2010 Carbonaceous Aerosol and Radiative Effects Study (CARES). Back then, researchers collected atmospheric measurements related to the evolution of carbon-based aerosols within the urban air plume around Sacramento, California.

As co-chair of ASR’s Aerosol Processes Working Group, Riemer and others track developments and emerging needs related to aerosol research on chemical, optical, and microphysical matters.

Among the discussions, says Riemer, is what directions aerosol investigations will take during ARM’s TRacking Aerosol Convection interactions ExpeRiment (TRACER). The yearlong TRACER field campaign is scheduled to begin in 2021 in the Houston, Texas, area.

Read a full scientist profile of Riemer on the ASR website.

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ARM is a DOE Office of Science user facility operated by nine DOE national laboratories.