UH Moment

UH Moment: “Air Quality”

If you want to study the air, you’ve got to get off the ground and up on the roof.  Listen to this week’s UH Moment.


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If it’s fall, it’s ozone season, and that means that the team of researchers from the University of Houston’s Earth and Atmospheric Sciences will be monitoring Houston’s ozone levels and air quality from high atop the campus’ Moody Towers

UH Assistant Professor Barry Lefer“On the tower we have our meteorological instruments and we have our sampling where we bring the ambient air down,” assistant professor Barry Lefer said.  “We have our ozone monitor, our carbon monoxide monitor, hydrogen oxide monitor and other equipment there.”

The UH tower is one of five such monitoring facilities across the Houston area and together they make the Houston Network of Environmental Towers (HNET).  For the last five years, Lefer and his colleagues have used this facility to monitor pollutants.  The innovative facility—and breathtaking view—have caught the attention of other researchers around the country who frequently come to the university to further their own research.

“The data we’re collecting here and the processes we’re studying appear to be important in many other large cities around the world,” he said.  “The processes we’re studying are happening in Los Angeles, in New York, in Beijing.”

HNET InstrumentsThe data is for state and city officials, but also for you and me to check ozone levels for outdoor activities.  To assist in that data collection, HNET team has the use of two aircraft to sample the atmosphere.  This will allow them not only to monitor Houston’s air, but also the air that is transported from other places.  

“With aircraft, we can sample upwind and downwind.  We can sample different levels in the atmosphere. That adds a new capability,” Lefer said.  

The Houston Network of Environmental Towers is part of what’s happening at the University of Houston. I’m Marisa Ramirez.

Telling the stories of the University of Houston, this UH Moment is brought to you by KUHF, listener supported radio from the University of Houston.