Dr. Frank Flocke

Frank is a Senior Scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) in Boulder, Colorado. He came to Boulder in 1992 as a PostDoc and has worked at NCAR ever since. In his three decades at NCAR he has participated in or led more than 20 aircraft-based and several more ground-based field projects aimed at understanding atmospheric chemistry and air quality both in and outside of the U.S. His work focuses on the formation and fate of organic nitrates and the role they play for the chemical balance of tropospheric ozone, the impact of anthropogenic emissions on regional air quality, for example the contributions of oil and gas extraction and transportation emissions to ozone formation in the Colorado Front Range. Recent work has also included the investigation of the atmospheric chemical transformation of emissions from large western wildfires.



In two videos on the Arcticstories website, atmospheric chemist Dr. Frank Flocke describes some of the key atmospheric measurements conducted during the BARROW2009 experiment as part of the OASIS (Ocean-Atmosphere-Sea Ice-Snowpack) program. Frank is a “Scientist III” at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) in Boulder, Colorado. He obtained his Ph.D. in atmospheric chemistry at Forschungszentrum (KFA) Julich, Germany and the University of Wuppertal, in Germany. He is an expert on nitrogen species, and ozone, in the atmosphere. Here Frank describes the OASIS “modules,” which are small research buildings built specifically for the OASIS campaign in Barrow (now called Utqiaġvik), 2009. From these buildings, a wide array of measurements are made, of organic compounds, nitrogen oxides, small molecules containing chlorine and bromine, an array of highly reactive small molecules called “free radicals”, and ozone. The objective of OASIS is to understand chemical processes initiated by the action of sunlight and other constituents of the atmosphere on sea-salt, the subsequent release of reactive halogen species from the sea salt, followed by a complex array of “free radical” reactions that destroy ozone and convert mercury into products that deposit to the surface. A particular interest of the OASIS team is how all this chemistry will change with climate change, and associated loss of sea ice, and what impact that will have on the composition of the atmosphere. Here Frank describes the set-up of the modules and what goes on inside!

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Atmospheric chemist Dr. Frank Flocke continues to discusse the location of his research modules and the reason they were set up away from the main building. The power plant and heating system near the building would alter the air quality measurements, and there was too much vehicle traffic and local emissions. The modules were placed in a V-shape to face the most likely wind direction, and the sampling tower was set up nearby to sample at different elevations. Anemometers measure movement of air in all three dimensions. He also uses a balloon to measure the boundary layer structure up to 500 feet in altitude.

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