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BVEF Awards $65,000 to UCI, Air Quality Study


Last updated 3/1/2016 at 12:40pm

The Borrego Valley Endowment Fund (the Fund) has awarded a $65,000, 3-year grant to the University of California, Irvine (UCI) to study Air Quality in the Borrego Valley. “This grant to develop objective measures of the changing air quality in our community furthers the Fund’s mission to invest in projects that will improve the health and wellbeing of all members of our community,” said Bob Kelly, President of the Fund.

The 3-year study will use data generated by seven weather monitoring stations currently being deployed throughout the valley as a result of a $270,000 grant from the National Science Foundation awarded last year to Dr. Travis Huxman, Director of the UCI Steele/Burnand Anza-Borrego Desert Research Center. These weather monitoring stations have been augmented to include particulate matter (dust) monitors as a result of a $15,000 grant from the Borrego Water District. Two of the seven monitoring stations can be easily seen at the Borrego Springs Elementary School and the Wilcox Well facility along Borrego Springs Rd.

The study will be conduced by UCI researcher Charles Zender, Ph.D. and doctoral candidate, Morgan Gorris. Dr. Zender is a world-renowned researcher who specializes in the understanding of the movement of particulate matter (dust) in the atmosphere; and Ms. Gorris will be working under his guidance. Dr. Zender noted, “We'll find out whether air quality and visibility have degraded in recent years and, if so, why. We hope this information increases understanding of how to preserve or even restore the ambience and viewshed that make Borrego Springs a regional treasure.”

The first year of the study will focus on combining data generated from the new ground-based monitoring stations with decades of NASA satellite data to create a baseline understanding of our air quality over the last decade. The second year of the study will use this baseline to develop a predictive air quality model similar to those models used for weather forecasting. The third year of the study will use the predictive model to specifically identify those sources of dust that impact our air quality.

Fund Trustee, David Garmon, said, “This project is an exciting example of the growing synergy between the world class researchers at UCI and the community of Borrego Springs, and it is a fulfillment of the university’s mission to engage in scientific endeavors that are relevant and significant to our community.”

The study will begin in March 2016 and run through 2018. Input from the community is sought in the form of reports from the public of particular days in which air quality is perceived to be noticeably poor. These community reports will be coordinated with data from the ground monitoring stations and satellite data. If you would like to participate in this study, please submit your reports to Morgan Gorris at

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