Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences

Caroline Womack

Caroline Womack

Research Interests

Air quality, tropospheric chemistry, cavity-enhanced spectroscopy, cavity ringdown spectroscopy, nitrogen oxides, aerosol optical properties

Current Research

My current research concerns the effect that reactive trace gases and aerosols can have on atmospheric chemistry, including the global climate and local air quality.

Wintertime particulate matter pollution: Salt Lake City, UT frequently experiences poor wintertime air quality due to it mountain terrain and meteorological episodes which trap pollutants close to the surface. In order to futher understand what chemical mechanisms are involved in the buildup of aerosols in the area, I participated in the Utah Winter Fine Particulates Study (UWFPS) in Jan - Feb, 2017. We flew our custom built nitrogen oxides cavity ringdown spectrometer to measure NOx (a byproduct of fossil fuel combustion) and ozone (an air toxic) in a light aircraft throughout Salt Lake Valley area. Read more about this campaign in our blog: http://ciresblogs.colorado.edu/air-quality-in-slc

Biomass burning aerosol optical properties: Wildfires are increasing in intensity and frequency in the western U.S., and releasing increasing amounts of trace gas pollutants and aerosols. In order to better understand the effect these aerosols have on the climate, I participated in the first stage of the Fire Influence on Regional and Global Environments Experiment (FIREX) at the Missoula Fire Sciences Lab in Oct - Nov 2016. I was investigating the optical properties of biomass burning aerosol generated in controlled burns, using a custom build broadband cavity enhanced spectrometer.