National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) - Air Resources Laboratory



FLC Region

Security Lab



5830 University Research Court
Room 4204
College Park, MD 20740
United States

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Laboratory Representative


ARL is a research laboratory of NOAA's Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research. The Lab is headquartered in College Park, Maryland and has divisions in Oak Ridge, Tennessee; Idaho Falls, Idaho; and Las Vegas, Nevada. ARL conducts research and development to gain new insights into atmospheric dispersion, air chemistry, climate change,and the complex behavior of the atmosphere near the surface.

ARL traces its origins back to 1948 when it was located in Washington, DC and known as the Special Projects Section (SPS) of the U.S. Weather Bureau (now known as the National Weather Service). The SPS was set up to serve as an interface between other federal agencies' needs for research and the meteorological products provided by the Weather Bureau. In 1948, the SPS was engaged in research utilizing meteorology to assist with the emerging atomic activities at that time. The SPS was among the first meteorological organizations to use meteorology to interpret air quality measurements and to contribute to assessments of hazards from the release and dispersion of harmful, airborne material (such as radionuclides). This function, conducted in a far more sophisticated fashion today, continues to be one of ARL's strongest research capabilities.

ARL develops and improves atmospheric dispersion and air quality models; collects and analyzes air chemistry and deposition measurements of select air chemistry parameters; conducts tracer and turbulence studies; and provides climate-relevant datasets and assessments of climate variability and trends. Some products developed by ARL augment the operational products of NOAA's service-oriented offices, particularly the National Weather Service (NWS). Other products and services directly support air chemistry decision-makers, such as the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and the research community. ARL also produces state-of-the art, web-based assessment tools that serve thousands of users, including university researchers, federal research agencies, and international partners. The HYbrid Single-Particle Lagrangian Integrated Trajectory (HYSPLIT) model, for example, is a very powerful and useful analytical tool developed and used by ARL and by others at NOAA and throughout the world to investigate atmospheric dispersion of harmful material.


Our mission is to provide needed atmospheric information and tools to decision-makers and to the science community to improve the Nation's ability to protect human health and our environment.

Our key capabilities include:

  • improving methods and tools for predicting atmospheric dispersion of hazardous chemicals and materials;
  • developing, evaluating, and applying air quality models;
  • conducting research on surface energy budgets and climate variability and trends; and
  • advancing the understanding of (and ability to predict) the behavior of the atmospheric boundary layer (the mixed layer of the atmosphere closest to the ground).

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