Ozone Garden and Monitors on Campus Will Record Important Environmental Data

Some exciting ozone research is coming from the School of Natural Sciences! Biology students under the direction of Dr. William Quinn will plant two species of plants with two varieties of each: one bred to be ozone tolerant and the other the standard variant. The team will then track damage to the plants as they grow from the same soil under the same weather conditions during the ozone season (in Austin, that’s April 1st to October 31st), tracking the damage to the plants as well as the seasonal variation in ozone.

The garden itself is based upon the work of St. Louis University professor Jack Fishman, who spent more than 25 years at NASA Langley Research Center, and his colleagues Irene Ladd, John Skelly, and Margaret Pippin. The project provides a visible reminder of the impact of pollution in our environment on plant health and productivity.

To further track the ozone the School of Natural Sciences has acquired an ozone monitor for the roof of the John Brooks Williams Science Center- South (JBWS), which will record one-minute average ozone concentrations all day, every day. Weather stations will be deployed both within the garden and on the rooftop of JBWS to measure pressure, temperature, wind speed, wind direction, relative humidity, and rainfall. The plan is to link the weather station feed into the Weather Underground network of amateur weather stations. The ozone data as well as the higher quality meteorological data from the rooftop will be linked into the state air quality data system, thanks to a grant from the Capital Area Council of Governments. All the data should be up and online at the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality Air Monitoring website by January 2016.