Thursday, November 10, 2016   |   Business Intelligence, Company News, Scientific Development

Baron Chief Scientist Publishes Air Quality Article in Leading Trade Publication

Behind every bold new technology that Baron issues, there’s a team of people who spend countless hours researching, organizing and perfecting the end product. They come together to find solutions for the concerns faced by a number of industries and populations. When it comes to enhancing critical weather intelligence John McHenry, Chief Scientist at Baron, is one of the leaders behind innovations in Baron technology.

“Baron is a company that thrives on creating products and tools that are new to the marketplace,” said McHenry. “We are always trying to push toward the next discovery in improving weather awareness.”

In a recent article published by the Journal of the Air & Waste Management Association, McHenry shared his expertise in air quality forecasting by delivering a report on the development, implementation and improvement of Baron’s unique version of the EPA’s Community Multiscale Air Quality Model, also known as CMAQ.

The article explains the importance of improved precision with particulate matter (PM2.5) forecasting. Excessive particle pollution creates detrimental health effects for people with asthma, bronchitis or other lung diseases. Creating and enhancing models that produce superior forecast guidance for decision makers, such as the Baron CMAQ that assimilates real-time aerosol optical depth data from two NASA satellites, is vital to protecting people at-risk. These kinds of tools are something that McHenry has focused on throughout his career.

Baron Air Quality Model

A fascination with innovation

McHenry’s interest in weather began at a young age. “As a child I was fascinated by severe weather,” he said. “And once I learned how to drive, I took it upon myself to begin storm chasing.”

Soon thereafter, he began his college career at DePauw University in Greencastle, Indiana where he double majored in Math and Physics. He then attended MIT to study graduate-level meteorology, and earned his master’s degree 3 years later.

“I’ve always enjoyed learning,” said McHenry. “I continue to discover areas that require my knowledge base to grow, which enables me to help deliver new and innovative systems so that Baron can continue to stay out front in making a difference.”

Prior to joining Baron in 2003, McHenry was a senior research environmental modeler at the North Carolina Supercomputing Center. There, McHenry became interested in developing and marketing real-time operational models in weather, air quality, and hydrological prediction. After initial success in bringing these tools to broadcast and agency forecasters, Baron hired him to expand and further improve these systems – including the first US-based operational ozone air quality forecast model launched CONUS-wide in 2004.

“My job at Baron is to ensure the scientific integrity of all the products that we produce,” said McHenry. “I also work with teams to push our developments into new, uncharted areas. Air quality is just one of my areas of expertise.”

Baron’s commitment to meticulous air-quality forecasting

At Baron, the importance of accurate air quality forecast modeling is an area of concentration within McHenry’s development group.

The Baron Air Quality forecast system involves three different and unique modeling systems that run concurrently on the Baron supercomputer at several different resolutions and forecast lead times. The diversity, multi-model nature, and consistent model forecast accuracy is what continues to attract numerous state agencies to subscribe to receive real-time forecast data. In both published and unpublished results, the Baron models have performed exceedingly well against other modeling systems in multi-agency-sponsored field programs. Publications are available upon request.

The EPA requires each state (and in some cases local agencies) to successfully monitor levels of potentially harmful air pollutants as well as to issue forecasts so that vulnerable populations can avoid excessive exposure. “For example, Alabama’s Jefferson County Department of Health relies on the Baron models to create their own air quality forecast and distribute it to the EPA’s AirNow website,” said McHenry.

Ozone and particle pollution forecasting is a priority. “Baron is invested in providing value-added precision air quality forecasts because poor air quality can cause significant health problems.” Baron’s passion for saving lives extends to everyone at the company, according to McHenry. “I believe that together we can make a difference,” he said. “We are more than about providing working solutions; we care that our technologies have an impact.”

To read McHenry’s article in the Journal of the Air & Waste Management Association, click here.