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Breakthroughs Magazine

Science Spotlight

Air Quality Study Above It All

Plane

Pacific Northwest National Laboratory atmospheric scientists make preparations for airborne measurements of ozone, other trace gases and particulate matter. Staff from Pacific Northwest operated its Gulfstream-1 aircraft in Philadelphia for three weeks this summer during one of the U.S. Department of Energy's Atmospheric Chemistry Program collaborative projects. Researchers were investigating the atmospheric formation and transport of ozone in urban settings. To control ozone pollution, more information is needed about man-made and naturally occurring trace gases in the atmosphere where ozone is formed. Pacific Northwest conducted other balloon-borne and radar measurements as part of this project.

Habitat Research Blooming at Seawater Greenhouse

Researchers are finding that watching the grass grow can be more exciting than the old saying might indicate. They're learning more about growing vegetation that provides habitat for sea life in a newly constructed marine greenhouse at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory's Marine Sciences Laboratory in Sequim, Wash.

Eelgrass

The greenhouse is unique because it isn't limited to freshwater research. "I don't know of any other flowing seawater greenhouse on the West Coast," said Ron Thom, a staff scientist at the Marine Sciences Laboratory.

The facility will be used to help force eelgrass plants to flower and produce seeds so that more plants can be cultivated. Eelgrass, which grows only in saltwater, provides habitat for several aquatic species including juvenile salmon that use it for protection on their way to the North Pacific.

"Ultimately, this could help replace eelgrass meadows in the Puget Sound that have been damaged or destroyed," said Amy Borde, the Pacific Northwest scientist who is responsible for the eelgrass propagation project. "Because salmon are protected under the Endangered Species Act, restoring eelgrass meadows and finding donor plants is becoming a big issue."

Researchers will use the greenhouse to test how plants react to various levels of temperature, light and water salinity. In the future, the facility may be used for other projects such as growing fungal species that degrade contaminants.

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