PNNL Lab Fellow Jerome Fast is the principal investigator of an ASR-supported project designed to understand and model key interactions among clouds, aerosols, and the land surface.
PNNL Lab Fellow Jerome Fast is the principal investigator of an ASR-supported project designed to understand and model key interactions among clouds, aerosols, and the land surface.

In early June, 2018, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) announced a new class of Laboratory Fellows, an honor bestowed on researchers credited with careers of sustained, high-quality work in science and engineering.

One of those so honored was Jerome Fast, a 24-year atmospheric scientist at PNNL and a veteran of research projects supported by the Atmospheric System Research Program (ASR), which is funded by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE).

“I have thoroughly enjoyed working on interesting, important, and challenging science questions over the years,” he says, “and I am grateful that PNNL recognized those efforts.”

Currently, Fast is the principal investigator of an ASR-supported project designed to understand and model key interactions among clouds, aerosols, and the land surface.

By 2020, he says, process-level findings from the three-year Integrated Cloud, Land-Surface, and Aerosol System Study (ICLASS) will lead to an improved understanding and model representation of those processes, and will help answer what are “among the most important challenges in atmospheric science.”

For ICLASS, Fast assembled a core team of 25 PNNL scientists, along with collaborators nationwide. They are busy analyzing data, performing laboratory experiments, and conducting high-resolution modeling studies.

It’s the kind of high-level work that has marked Fast’s career. His work has ranged widely through atmospheric phenomena. He has studied transport and dispersion processes, complex terrain circulations, boundary layer meteorology, mesoscale systems, trace gas and particulate chemistry, and aerosol-radiation-cloud interactions.

Fast is also an expert in developing, using, and interpreting atmospheric models—though that role has not kept him from the observational side of the science. A veteran of eight field campaigns since 1997, he has developed hypotheses to test, deployed instruments, and has both collected and analyzed data.

To illustrate: In 2016, Fast led the Holistic Interactions of Shallow Clouds and Land Ecosystems (HI-SCALE) field campaign, with support from DOE’s Atmospheric Radiation Measurement (ARM) user facility.

For the field work, which took place at ARM’s Southern Great Plains atmospheric observatory, he coordinated the deployment of several advanced instruments needed to investigate trace gas interactions associated with emissions of biogenic volatile organic compounds and aerosol growth from nanoparticle to cloud condensation nuclei (CCN) sizes.

Fast also directed the campaign’s aircraft sampling strategy to ensure that critical measurements collected would help describe the complex coupling of land-atmosphere interactions, boundary layer mixing, aerosol populations, and shallow convective clouds.

All this, of course, was informed by his role as a designer of model experiments and an interpreter of model predictions.

As of this May, 2018, he has published 128 papers in peer-reviewed journals; contributed to book chapters and user’s guides; and has authored tutorials related to the chemistry version of the Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) community model.

Fast received his higher degrees from Iowa State University: a B.S. in Meteorology and Mathematics (1985); an M.S. in Meteorology (1987); and a Ph.D. in Meteorology (1990).

Before joining PNNL in 1994, he was a senior scientist at the Savannah River Technology Center.

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This work was supported by the U.S. Department of Energy's Office of Science, Office of Biological and Environmental Research as part of the Atmospheric System Research Program.