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Scenes from The University of Rhode Island

URI Friends of Oceanography free public lecture focuses on the role of ozone in our atmosphere

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Narragansett, RI -- May 17, 2004 -- Although ozone was first discovered in Germany in 1839, its importance as an element in our atmosphere has become a part of the public consciousness only in the latter part of the twentieth century.

To learn more about the role of ozone in the atmosphere, the public is invited to attend a Friends of Oceanography Lecture entitled "Up, up and away: Measuring ozone in our atmosphere and what the data reveal," given by Dr. John Merrill, URI Graduate School of Oceanography (GSO) professor of atmospheric chemistry. The lecture will take place on Thursday, May 27, at noon in the Coastal Institute Auditorium on the URI Bay Campus in Narragansett.

Merrill will discuss how a group at GSO is making repeated measurements of the vertical distribution of ozone through the atmosphere using balloon-borne instrumentation. Ozone is an important secondary air pollutant and also a critical natural trace constituent of the atmosphere, and as such its distribution and chemistry are the subjects of ongoing research. The balloon profiles are part of a campaign involving instrumented aircraft, satellite data and other measurements and models, aimed at estimating the transport of pollutants across continents and even oceans. The techniques used to obtain the ozone profiles and results of some recent soundings will be described. Information on a larger campaign to measure ozone will also be presented.

A resident of North Kingstown, Merrill received a B.A. in physics from the University of California at Berkeley, an M.S. in physics from the University of Illinois, and a Ph.D. in atmospheric science from the University of Colorado.

Much of Merrill's research work has been on the large-scale circulation of the atmosphere, particularly long-range transport, in collaboration with atmospheric chemists and with paleoclimatologists using geological techniques. His current funded research is on meteorological analysis and modeling for major atmospheric chemistry projects. The most important parts of these projects involve making estimates of the flux of natural stratospheric ozone into the troposphere and quantifying the impact of aerosols (primarily mineral dust, but including direct forcing by pollution) on the radiative budget over ocean areas.

Established in 1985 to support and promote the activities of the URI Graduate School of Oceanography, Friends of Oceanography informs and educates the membership and the general public about the scientific, technological, and environmental research that takes place at GSO. The organization sponsors public lectures, open houses, marine-related mini-courses, science cruises on Narragansett Bay, and an annual auction. For information about Friends of Oceanography, call 874-6602.