Postdoctoral Research Associate, Air Quality Modeler with Satellite Expertise, Full Time, 100% FTE

USFS Pacific Wildland Fire Sciences Laboratory
Commensurate with experience + Benefits
Jun 05, 2017
Jul 05, 2017
UW NN22498
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Title: Postdoctoral Research Associate, Air Quality Modeler with Satellite Expertise, Full Time, 100% FTE

Location: Seattle, WA

Duration: Initial appointment is for one year and renewable up to three years depending on performance.

Salary: Commensurate with experience

We are seeking a postdoctoral research scientist with expertise in air quality models and satellite data to support innovative research improving smoke forecasting tools that support wildfire incidents throughout the United States. The successful applicant will be expected to do atmospheric and air quality modeling and to develop systems and analyses using satellite data to improve model performance in modeling smoke from wildland fires. The position is with the University of Washington (UW) School of Environmental and Forest Sciences and supports research done collaboratively with the US Forest Service (USFS).

Wildland fires emit a wide variety of trace gases and aerosol into the atmosphere which continue to undergo many chemical and physical transformations as well as interacting with atmospheric processes. The Postdoc will lead an effort applying satellite information to improve the simulation of wildland fire smoke in atmospheric and air quality (AQ) models such as the Community multi-scale air quality (CMAQ) modeling system, or Weather Research Forecasting (WRF)-Chem model, or WRF-SFire model on scales ranging from sub-kilometer to 12-km (regional to continental) scales. These models are being developed for use in a suite of air quality tools being used by fire incident command to support decisions on the fire as well as discussions with air regulatory and public health officials in the areas affected by smoke including influencing public health notifications. The postdoc will work on improving these air quality modeling systems and use satellite information (e.g. AOD, FRP, etc… from platforms such as GOES, VIIRS, and MODIS) to improve model initialization and model evaluation, as well as to develop fundamental scientific improvements to various model components.

The work will be conducted as part of multidisciplinary team, integrating data from many sources and disciplines such as fire ecology, atmospheric chemistry, fire weather, fire behavior and combustion, and field campaigns of land and airborne measurements. The basic existing modeling system is the BlueSky smoke modeling framework, which links together fire activity, mapped fuel loadings, fuel consumption and emission models, and algorithms for fire spread and vertical allocation emissions into dispersion and atmospheric chemistry models to produce smoke forecasts. BlueSky is applied to a variety of scales and regions to support wildfire incident command teams. The goal with this position is to use satellite information to improve the fundamental science and delivery of these forecast products – implementing them operationally, evaluating the system, doing case study analysis and improving individual components of the system such as plume rise, time allocation of emissions, or model initialization or nudging. The successful candidate will be adept at installing and setting up air quality modeling systems such as WRF-CHEM and CMAQ in a LINUX environment, processing emission inventory data, and analyzing large atmospheric and air quality datasets. This position also provides the opportunity to work with a wide user community involved in smoke and fire, nationally and internationally.

The position will provide an outstanding opportunity to apply a variety of field and analytical skills to perform original and applied research, present the results at scientific meetings and trainings, and publish first-author papers in peer-reviewed journals. The appointment is for one year renewable up to three years conditional upon performance. The stipend is negotiable depending upon experience and includes benefits. The position is located at the Pacific Wildland Fire Sciences Laboratory in Seattle, Washington, USA.


  • Ph.D. in atmospheric science, geography, engineering, or similar field
  • Experience installing and running atmospheric and air quality models such as CMAQ, WRF-Chem, WRF-SFire, and perhaps GEOS-Chem
  • Experience working with satellite datasets such as AOD, FRP, CO, NOX, and O3 from platforms and instruments such as AQUA, TERRA, VIIRS, GOES, CALIPSO, CATS, MODIS, TES, MISR and MOPITT
  • Experience processing emission inventory data for air quality models
  • Experience evaluating atmospheric and air quality modeling systems
  • Experience with manipulating and analyzing large spatial datasets
  • High-level R and/or Python programming skills
  • Comfort in working in UNIX/LINUX environment
  • Data and workflow management skills
  • Strong writing and presentation skills, including a track record of peer-reviewed publications and scientific conference presentations
  • Ability to work in a collaborative environment across many disciplines

Application Instructions:

For information about the position, contact Dr. Susan O’Neill,,, 206-732-7851

Interested individuals should send a CV, brief statement of qualifications, and contact information for 3 references to:

Dr. Ernesto Alvarado

School of Environmental and Forest Sciences

University of Washington

Box 352100

Seattle, WA 98195


Phone: 206-616-6920

The incumbent will have opportunities for professional development through the University of Washington Office of Postdoctoral Affairs (

The University of Washington is an affirmative action and equal opportunity employer. All qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to, among other things, race, religion, color, national origin, sex, age, status as protected veterans, or status as qualified individuals with disabilities. University of Washington faculty engage in teaching, research, and service.