MURFREESBORO, Tenn. (WMOT) -- Federal researchers are using Middle Tennessee as a base of operations for what they say is one of the largest air-quality studies in decades.
Two specially equipped aircraft are flying daily research missions across the southeast out of Smyrna Airport.
One goal of the study is to determine why temperatures aren't rising as quickly in the American South as they have across the rest of the country. The working theory is that pollution particles in southern skies are reflecting sunlight, lowering temperatures at ground level.
Joost Degouw is one of the scientists involved in the study. He says researchers hope to learn just how much of the air pollution is man-made, and how much comes from natural sources.
“The Southeast is unique in the sense that there are high natural emissions from forests, and those emissions are known to form particles quite efficiently. So the suspicion is that a lot of the particles here are, in fact, natural.”
The air-quality study will cost about $20 million dollars with funding coming from a variety of public and private sources. The flights will continue for four more weeks.
You can learn more about the research online.