Posts tagged with "NOAA"

Biden doubles FEMA funding for extreme weather preparations

May 25, 2021

The Biden Administration announced on May 24 that it will direct $1 billion toward the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s fund for extreme weather preparations—representing a 100 percent increase over existing funding levels, The Hill reports.

The budget increase will go to the Building Resilient Infrastructure and Communities (BRIC) program, which provides support for local, state, and tribal government preparation efforts.

The increase, and the program in general, are part of an effort to “categorically shift the federal focus” from responding to individual disasters on a case-by-case basis to “research-supported, proactive investment in community resilience,” the White House said.

“As climate change threatens to bring more extreme events like increased floods, sea level rise, and intensifying droughts and wildfires, it is our responsibility to better prepare and support communities, families, and businesses before disaster—not just after,” the administration said in a statement. “This includes investing in climate research to improve our understanding of these extreme weather events; [as well as] our decision-making on climate resilience, adaptation, and mitigation. It also means ensuring that communities have the resources they need to build resilience prior to these crises.”

The additional funding comes after a sharp increase in major hurricanes in 2020, with a record high of 30 named storms and a dozen hurricanes or tropical storms that made landfall in the United States.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is projecting a heavier-than-average hurricane season in 2021. Between 13 and 20 named storms are likely—with six to 10 becoming full hurricanes and three to five becoming major hurricanes, according to the NOAA. These numbers would constitute the sixth above-average storm season in a row.

“Now is the time for communities along the coastline as well as inland to get prepared for the dangers that hurricanes can bring,” Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo said in a statement last week.

Research contact: @thehill

NOAA: Pollution from personal care products is comparable to tailpipe emissions in Boulder

August 26, 2019

Motor vehicles have long been recognized as a dominant source of pollution. But a new study led by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) shows that—during the morning rush hour in Boulder, Colorado—the trail of chemical vapors emitted by commuters who have applied a variety of personal care products to their skin and hair is comparable in magnitude to the  emissions of major components of vehicle exhaust.

People, it turns out, are a major source of pollution too, NOAA has found.

“We detected a pattern of emissions that coincides with human activity,” said lead author Matthew Coggon, a CIRES scientist working at NOAA’s Earth System Research Laboratory. “People apply these products in the morning, leave their homes, and drive to work or school. We see emissions spike in the morning and show a lower peak again at the end of the day.”

The  study findings, published in the journal, Environmental Science and Technology, confirms other recent findings, which demonstrate that chemical emissions from personal care products can contribute significantly to urban air pollution.

Among the chief culprits: D5 Siloxane, short for decamethylcyclopentasiloxane, a common ingredient added to shampoos, lotions, and other personal care products to give them a smooth, silky feeling.

Siloxane belongs to a class of chemicals called volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which are designed to evaporate. Once released into the atmosphere, NOAA says, sunlight can catalyze reactions between VOCs, nitrogen oxides, and other compounds to form ozone and particulate matter—two types of pollution that are regulated because of their effects on air quality and human health.

Coggon and his colleagues measured VOCs from the roof of NOAA’s Earth System Research Laboratory in December 2015 and January 2017—and from a mobile laboratory driving around  Boulder during rush hour in February, 2016. They sampled everything they could, including compounds such as benzene, which are known markers of vehicle exhaust.

“We were surveying the air, monitoring every chemical compound our instrument was sensitive to—about 150 compounds,” said Coggon. From that soup of chemicals, one compound in particular caught their attention. “We found a big peak in the data but we didn’t know what it was,” he said.

Based on the measurements, Patrick Veres, a NOAA scientist and co-author on the paper, suggested the suspect might be a chemical known as D5 siloxane, a refined petroleum product he recognized from another research project. When Coggon’s team saw that siloxane levels appeared to rise and fall throughout the day in step with measurements of  benzene emissions from traffic, they initially theorized siloxane was a component of vehicle exhaust. But when they tested tailpipe emissions directly and took roadside measurement, siloxane was absent.

Siloxane and benzene weren’t coming from the same source, but Coggon and his colleagues recognized that the chemicals were linked with a particular human behavior: Commuting.

By studying their data hour-by-hour, they realized siloxane emissions peaked in the morning, when people put on personal care products and went outside into their cars or buses. That’s when benzene emissions went up too. Emissions of both chemicals decreased during the day, then peaked again during the evening commute. The evening peak of siloxane emissions was lower than in the morning, because, they theorized, the personal care products had largely evaporated throughout the day.

The findings support an emerging body of research into the role of consumer and industrial products as  sources of urban air pollution.

The research team is looking at other chemicals in personal care products that may also spike in the morning, as people commute. “We all have a personal plume, from our cars and our personal care products,” said Coggon.

Research contact: @NOAAResearch