Science Wednesday: Modeling Matters

Each week we write about the science behind environmental protection. Previous Science Wednesdays.

By Tanya Otte

Did you know that it’s Air Quality Awareness Week?

If you did, that’s great!  If not, that’s OK, too.  With so many “awareness weeks” out there, it’s hard to be aware of them all.  Keeping this in mind, and recognizing that awareness of any issue should not be limited to one week of the year, my colleagues and I in EPA’s Atmospheric Modeling and Analysis Division are launching a periodic feature to help keep you informed of air quality research that may affect your life.

Our feature is called “Modeling Matters.”  You’ll find us here in Greenversations as occasional contributors on Science Wednesdays.  “Modeling Matters” is a triple entendre.  As environmental scientists, we are interested in the behavior of solids, liquids, and gases in the atmosphere, and in their translations between those states, so we are actively modeling different types of matter.  In addition, we plan to use this forum to discuss issues that are important to environmental modeling, so these are modeling matters.  Finally, my colleagues and I believe it is imperative to simulate complex interactions occurring every day in the atmosphere with scientific credibility, and therefore modeling matters to us.

We hope you’ll find that modeling matters to you, too.

We are committed to providing honest, scientifically sound glimpses into our work and how it may affect you.  My colleagues and I are regular people with normal jobs, and we are fully aware of our charge to serve the public.  We’re the ones rolling up our sleeves and making the changes to improve the models that influence some big decisions on environmental issues.    Sometimes we work on controversial scientific topics.

Our primary goal for “Modeling Matters” is to inform you of the role that our models play in protecting human health and the environment.  We hope you’ll even learn a few things about how our models work.  If you have something you’d like to add to the discussion or a topic you’d like to see addressed, we’d love to hear from you!  We hope you’ll be back next week for our first full-feature blog post.

About the author:  Tanya Otte has a career in modeling that does not involve runways in New York or Paris.  She is a research physical scientist and has worked at EPA in atmospheric modeling and analysis since 1998.

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