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Pieternel Levelt chosen to lead NCAR’s Atmospheric Chemistry Observations & Modeling Lab

New ACOM Director joins NCAR from The Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute, where she heads the department for R&D Satellite Observations

Nov 11, 2020 - by Staff

Pieternel Levelt
Pieternel Levelt to head Atmospheric Chemistry Observations & Modeling Laboratory (ACOM) at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR). (Photo credit: © Sam Rentmeester)

Pieternel Levelt has been selected to lead the Atmospheric Chemistry Observations & Modeling Laboratory (ACOM) at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR). Levelt currently serves as the head of the R&D Satellite Observations department at The Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute while also serving as a professor at Delft University of Technology.  

“Pieternel Levelt’s achievements in atmospheric chemistry research and instrumentation, which includes putting two leading satellite instruments into space, plus her background heading an international team of researchers, makes her an ideal leader for this position,” said NCAR Director Everette Joseph. “I look forward to seeing her build on ACOM’s mission, especially our partnership with the academic community, and utilize her international experience to strengthen our center’s scientific collaborations across the globe. Her vision for the future of studying and modeling atmospheric chemistry within the Earth system aligns well with our overall goals of science with and for society.” 

As an expert in remote sensing of the Earth’s atmosphere, Levelt has contributed significantly to air quality research as the principal investigator for the Ozone Monitoring Instrument (OMI) on NASA’s EOS-Aura satellite, and also as the scientific initiator of the TROPOspheric Monitoring Instrument (TROPOMI) on the ESA/EU Copernicus Sentinel-5 Precursor satellite. OMI and TROPOMI are premier air quality instruments that provide essential data to scientists all over the globe. She received the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center Group Achievement award in 2005 and 2009, and the 2018 NASA/USGS Pecora Team Award, which went to the international OMI science team for more than 15 years of sustained team innovation and international collaboration to produce daily global satellite data that revolutionized urban air quality. The OMI team also received the 2021 AMS Special Award for international collaboration to produce satellite observations that have transformed atmospheric chemistry research.  

Levelt first came to NCAR as a visiting scientist in 1997 and since then has returned for numerous scientific collaborations with colleagues in ACOM, the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration, and the University of Colorado Boulder. She also currently serves on the ACOM advisory board. Levelt earned her Ph.D. in physics from the Vrije University Amsterdam.  

“It is an honor to join ACOM, a leading atmospheric research laboratory, in this capacity,” said Levelt. “I am proud of my background in remote sensing, and I look forward to new horizons with ACOM staff. This laboratory has a strong record on all aspects of atmospheric chemistry observation, instrumentation, and modeling. Right now atmospheric chemistry is a very important field when one realizes that air pollution, the impact of COVID-19, wildfires, and climate change are among many of the important subjects for life here on Earth. Atmospheric chemistry is one of the key research topics of our time, and ACOM is really the place to be.”

Levelt plans to begin her position as ACOM Director in the first quarter of 2021. As the new ACOM Director, Pieternel will oversee ACOM’s research mission to advance the understanding and predictive capability for atmospheric composition and related processes of the Earth system. She will also work closely with the NCAR Directorate to align her strategic direction for ACOM with the new NCAR Strategic Plan.

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