Faculty Advisor

Mark Potosnak


Measuring plant health is a key aspect in maximizing crop outputs. One often overlooked risk to crop fields is damage caused by stomatal ozone uptake; measuring this uptake is an important tool in understanding crop losses. Traditional methods for measuring plant ozone uptake are prohibitively expensive and rely on equipment that cannot easily be moved. Here, we propose high-altitude weather ballooning as a cost-effective alternative for measuring ozone uptake on a regional (~10 km) spatial scale. Ozonesounde data was obtained with weather balloons launched from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration research station in Boulder, Colorado. This data was then compared to back trajectory data to determine if wind blowing from over cropfields from the east had a significant increase in ozone concentration with altitude, indicating uptake. While initial results seemed promising, the results were compromised by the complex meteorology, terrain and landuse near Boulder, including the large urban area near Denver to the southeast and the mountain region to the west. The complexity of the local area confounded any possible relationships in the data. However, promising initial results and ozone concentration patterns indicate the potential of this new method, if performed in a more suitable area.