Air Quality and Climate Change

The Appalachian Atmospheric Interdisciplinary Research (AppalAIR) program has developed a synergistic approach to understanding atmospheric properties and processes and the associated environmental, economic, and societal impacts in Western North Carolina. A thirty meter tower is currently being outfitted with multiple sensors that will support atmospheric research in mountain regions.

The focus of this interdisciplinary research is to improve understanding of atmospheric properties and processes and the associated impacts on terrestrial ecosystems and climates in the southern Appalachian Mountains. Research will focus on four inter-related areas: 1) weather and forecasting, 2) climate variability and change, 3) air quality, and 4) ecosystem and agricultural impacts. The research will:

  • Improve monitoring and observations at sites across Western North Carolina;
  • Improve numerical weather and climate modeling capabilities;
  • Develop future change assessments and associated environmental, economic, and societal impacts;
  • Promote public outreach and understanding of the impacts of weather and climate.

The AppalAIR team also participates in a local and regional Snow Network related to the Community Collaborative Rain, Hail, and Snow (CoCoRaHS). This is a very low-cost (heavily volunteer and community-based effort) initiative that supports research associated with climate change, extreme events, disaster planning, particularly has been proposed for mountain regions where the spatial variability of precipitation is so pronounced.

  • The National Commission for Energy Policy supported the efforts of Okmyung Bin, East Carolina University, Chris Dumas, University of North Carolina at Wilmington; Ben Poulter, Duke University and Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research; and John Whitehead, Appalachian State University, that resulted in the publication of: Measuring the Impacts of Climate Change on North Carolina Coastal Resources.
  • S. N. Villalpando, R.S. Williams (Appalachian State University) and R.J. Norby. 2008. Elevated air temperature alters an old-field insect community in a multi-factor climate change experiment. Global Change Biology, in press.
  • Neufeld, H.S., Lee, E.H., Renfro, J.R., and Hacker, W.D. (2000) Seedling insensitivity to ozone for three conifer species native to Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Environmental Pollution 108:141-151. 

Chappelka, A.H., H.S. Neufeld, A.W. Davison and G.L. Somers. (2003) Evaluation of ozone injury on foliage of cutleaf coneflower (Rudbeckia laciniata) and crownbeard (Verbesina occidentalis) in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Environmental Pollution 125:53-59.
  • A Comparison of 30-year Climatic Temperature Normals for the Southeastern United States. Peter T. Soule. Southeastern Geographer. 45(1) 2005.