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S. Marcela Loría-Salazar
S. Marcela Loría-Salazar
School of Meteorology, University of Oklahoma | Website

Applied Research Topic

Toward Understanding the Effect of Aerosols on Regional Weather and Human Health in the Southern Great Plains
Co-I: Connor Flynn, University of Oklahoma

Potential Applications Improved smoke forecasts; informed health alert forecasts related to pollen, dust, and smoke in the Southern Great Plains


The Atmospheric Aerosols and Air Quality Laboratory at University of Oklahoma will use PACE datasets to investigate long-range transport of aerosols (e.g., Saharan dust, smoke from wildfires) to the ones regional emitted in the Southern Great Plains (SGP-- e.g., traffic emissions, smoke agricultural fires, wind-blown dust, pollen). The PACE retrievals will be used in conjunction with few AErosol RObotic NETwork (AERONET) stations, one Surface PARTiculate mAtter Network (SPARTAN) station, aerosol instrumentation (including ground-based lidars) from the Department on Energy Atmospheric Radiation Measurement (ARM) site in Oklahoma, and weather stations from the MESONET network in Oklahoma. Project outreach activities will include instruction on how to manipulate state-of-art satellite data related to air composition in the School of Meteorology at the University of Oklahoma using PACE datasets. The novelty of this work relies on the understanding of how aerosol properties and concentrations change as the smoke is dispersed in the atmosphere and two-way interaction between smoke and the atmospheric boundary layer (ABL). PACE data will be used to improve smoke forecasts, understand effects of aerosols on regional weather, and inform health alert forecasts related to pollen, dust, and smoke in the SGP especially Oklahoma.


Aerosol pollution is a growing global public health problem due to wildfires in the United States, which especially affects vulnerable human populations. Air quality awareness has increased in the past several decades because of the growing body of literature citing adverse impacts of aerosol pollution on human health and the impacts of aerosols on climate change by altering Earth's radiative budget. Ground-based monitoring networks have been established with the aim of measuring surface and column-integrated loadings of particulate matter (PM) and aerosols, respectively.

Of the many components of air composition, smoke aerosols from wildfires and biomass burning can be a prominent actor. An underappreciated effect of these aerosols is their influence on the atmospheric boundary layer (ABL) depth, behavior, and local weather. For example, aerosol radiative effects can alter radiative heating profiles; significantly influencing convection, mixing layer depth, and other ABL phenomena. In turn, aerosol-induced changes of ABL dynamics affect aerosol transport. For example, smoke aerosols may be mixed into the ABL, thus being more likely to affect human health. To study the three-way relationship of aerosols with the ABL, local weather, and vice versa, observations of atmospheric chemical composition and meteorological parameters are needed. Ground-based measurements only provide a limited picture of the ABL and the aerosols contained therein. Fortunately, NASA has developed various space-based aerosol remote sensing capabilities to complement ground observations and “fill in” the needed data because of the improvement in the horizontal spatial coverage provided by satellites. Use of NASA PACE aerosol data will help us advance air quality models to better inform public health alerts in the SGP region of the United States and additional understanding the role of aerosols in regional weather.


The use and evaluation of aerosol data from NASA PACE mission will advance smoke air quality models by (1) improving the spatial resolution with respect to MODIS aerosol products, especially for combined AOD-height retrieval, and (2) potentially advancing aerosol characterization from the two-multiangle polarimeters (SPEXOne and HARP2).

End User(s)

Oklahoma MESONET Fire Network
Oklahoma Air Quality Division

SAT Partner(s)

Alexei Lyapustin


Loría-Salazar, S. M., Sayer, A. M., Barnes, J., Huang, J., Flynn, C., Lareau, N., et al. (2021). Evaluation of Novel NASA Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer and Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite Aerosol Products and Assessment of Smoke Height Boundary Layer Ratio During Extreme Smoke Events in the Western USA. Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres, 126(11), e2020JD034180. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1029/2020JD034180

Loría-Salazar, S. M., Panorska, A., Arnott, W. P., Barnard, J. C., Boehmler, J. M., & Holmes, H. A. (2017). Toward understanding atmospheric physics impacting the relationship between columnar aerosol optical depth and near-surface PM2.5 mass concentrations in Nevada and California, U.S.A., during 2013, Atmospheric Environment, 171, 289-300. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.atmosenv.2017.10.023

Loría-Salazar, S. M., Holmes, H. A., Arnott, W. P., Barnard, J. C., & Moosmüller, H. (2016). Evaluation of MODIS columnar aerosol retrievals using AERONET in semi-arid Nevada and California, U.S.A., during the summer of 2012. Atmospheric Environment, 144, 345–360. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.atmosenv.2016.08.070

Loría-Salazar, S. M., Arnott, W. P., & Moosmüller, H. (2014). Accuracy of near-surface aerosol extinction determined from columnar aerosol optical depth measurements in Reno, NV, USA. Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres, 119(19), 2014JD022138. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1002/2014JD022138

Pierce, A. M., Loría-Salazar, S. M., Holmes, H. A., & Gustin, M. S. (2019). Investigating horizontal and vertical pollution gradients in the atmosphere associated with an urban location in complex terrain, Reno, Nevada, USA. Atmospheric Environment, 196, 103–117. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.atmosenv.2018.09.063

Aerosol dispersion conditions in Oklahoma, U.S.
Example Mesonet map showing dispersion conditions over Oklahoma. Categories indicate the ability of the atmosphere to dilute airborne particles (i.e. smoke, pollution, pesticides). Atmospheric dispersion includes both horizontal and vertical dilution of released vapor-like particulates. The higher the dispersion number category the faster atmospheric dilution is likely to occur. When conditions are poor (2) or very poor (1) vapors can stay concentrated for long periods of time.
Aerosol dispersion conditions in Oklahoma, U.S.
Check out our StoryMap about Marcela Loría-Salazar's work.