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Majoring in Environmental Science with a minor in French, Molly came to CMMAP from Colorado College. A senior, her research interests are computer modeling and atmospheric chemistry. She is also interested in developing alternative energy sources.

With increasing pollution in Eastern Asia come increasing concerns regarding the final destination of that pollution. Previous studies have shown that aerosol pollution produced in East Asia can reach the western United States, although in minimal amounts (Heald et al., 2006). This research looks at a long-term sulfate record from Mauna Loa, in Hawaii, to determine if the sulfate levels in this nearly pristine environment have been changing over time.

Long-range transport from Asia was found to occur from December through May by calculating back trajectories in HYSPLIT. This result is in concordance with previous research, which suggests spring as the major transport season (Perry et al., 1999; Prospero et al., 2003). The sulfate measurements themselves, which peak in the spring, also suggest the importance of this season in long-range transport from East Asia. Average spring sulfate measurements were found to have increased by ~6% per year from 1993 to 2008 (p = 0.038), while average summer sulfate measurements did not increase significantly (p = 0.242) over the same time period. These results suggest that there is a perceptible Asian influence on sulfate levels at Mauna Loa, and that the Asian contribution to these levels is increasing.

Seasonal variability at 300 mb is shown to be consistent with the tropopause-based methods in Birner (2010). Seasonal variability patterns for the tropical belt width at low- and mid-levels (e.g. 700 mb, 500 mb, respectively.) are shown to be notably different. Most notably, the variability pattern at the southern edge is shown to differ greatly from the pattern at the northern edge.

Molly's summer research poster, Free Tropospheric Aerosols Measured at Mauna Loa: Sources and Trends; Do you know where your sulfate's been?, may be found here (7MB).

In her free time, Molly enjoys reading, puzzles and going on walks.