Assistant Research Scientist Julie Nicely was the second author on a recent publication in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences that outlines a way to quantify global hydroxyl radical (OH), a central oxidizing agent that can destroy hazardous air pollutants such as methane.
The authors of the piece, titled “Mapping hydroxyl variability throughout the global remote troposphere via synthesis of airborne and satellite formaldehyde observations”, have developed a unique way to infer how global OH concentrations vary over time and in different regions.
Previously, there has been no way to directly measure OH on a global scale. Better understanding of OH levels can help scientists understand if variability in global methane levels is due to changing emissions, such as from oil and natural gas production or wetlands, versus being caused by changing levels of OH.
Nicely recently joined ESSIC after being a NASA Postdoctoral Fellow in the Atmospheric Chemistry and Dynamics branch. Her research focuses on using observations and models to improve our understanding of the chemistry that takes place in Earth's atmosphere.
To see UMBC’s press release on this report, see here: “UMBC’s Glenn Wolfe develops new method to gauge atmosphere’s ability to clear methane, a potent greenhouse gas”.