Document Type


Date of Degree

Fall 2017

Degree Name

PhD (Doctor of Philosophy)

Degree In

Chemical and Biochemical Engineering

First Advisor

Carmichael, Gregory R.

First Committee Member

Stanier, Charles O.

Second Committee Member

O'Shaughnessy, Patrick

Third Committee Member

Spak, Scott N.

Fourth Committee Member

Peters, Thomas


Atmospheric particulate matter (PM) is linked to various adverse environmental and health impacts. PM in the atmosphere reduces visibility, alters precipitation patterns by acting as cloud condensation nuclei (CCN), and changes the Earth’s radiative balance by absorbing or scattering solar radiation in the atmosphere. The long-range transport of pollutants leads to increase in PM concentrations even in remote locations such as polar regions and mountain ranges. One significant effect of PM on the earth’s climate occurs while light absorbing PM, such as Black Carbon (BC), deposits over snow. In the Arctic, BC deposition on highly reflective surfaces (e.g. glaciers and sea ices) has very intense effects, causing snow to melt more quickly. Thus, characterizing PM sources, identifying long-range transport pathways, and quantifying the climate impacts of PM are crucial in order to inform emission abatement policies for reducing both health and environmental impacts of PM.

Chemical transport models provide mathematical tools for better understanding atmospheric system including chemical and particle transport, pollution diffusion, and deposition. The technological and computational advances in the past decades allow higher resolution air quality and weather forecast simulations with more accurate representations of physical and chemical mechanisms of the atmosphere.

Due to the significant role of air pollutants on public health and environment, several countries and cities perform air quality forecasts for warning the population about the future air pollution events and taking local preventive measures such as traffic regulations to minimize the impacts of the forecasted episode. However, the costs associated with the complex air quality forecast models especially for simulations with higher resolution simulations make “forecasting” a challenge. This dissertation also focuses on applications, performance analysis, and optimization of meteorology and air quality modeling forecasting models.

This dissertation presents several modeling studies with various scales to better understand transport of aerosols from different geographical sources and economic sectors (i.e. transportation, residential, industry, biomass burning, and power) and quantify their climate impacts. The simulations are evaluated using various observations including ground site measurements, field campaigns, and satellite data.

The sector-based modeling studies elucidated the importance of various economical sector and geographical regions on global air quality and the climatic impacts associated with BC. This dissertation provides the policy makers with some implications to inform emission mitigation policies in order to target source sectors and regions with highest impacts. Furthermore, advances were made to better understand the impacts of light absorbing particles on climate and surface albedo.

Finally, for improving the modeling speed, the performances of the models are analyzed, and optimizations were proposed for improving the computational efficiencies of the models. Theses optimizations show a significant improvement in the performance of Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) and WRF-Chem models. The modified codes were validated and incorporated back into the WRF source code to benefit all WRF users. Although weather and air quality models are shown to be an excellent means for forecasting applications both for local and hemispheric scale, further studies are needed to optimize the models and improve the performance of the simulations.


Air Quality Modeling, Arctic Snow Albedo, High Performance Computing, Light Absorbing Particles, Numerical Weather Prediction, Profiling and Performance Optimization


xix, 191 pages


Includes bibliographical references (pages 177-191).


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Copyright © 2017 Negin Sobhani