Photo of Nebila Lichiheb

Research Associate with University of Tennessee working in residence at NOAA/ATDD


Atmospheric Modeling and Reactive Nitrogen Pollution

Contact: Office: (865) 455-6716

Current Research
I am focused on studying the air quality issues, including transport, transformation and fate of pollutants, such as reactive nitrogen. My research interests include measurement and modeling of surface-atmosphere exchange of trace gas and particles in agricultural, forest and coastal ecosystems. I use datasets derived from measurement campaigns for input and validation of computer models results. The goal of my research is to refine the estimation of air pollution and assess the risks to human health and the environment. For more information on my research click here. A listing of publications is available in pdf format here.

AgroParisTech (French Institute for Education and Research in Agronomy, Environment, Life Science and Food Technology), Paris, France

Ph.D., Environmental Sciences, 2014

M.S., Agricultural Sciences, 2011

INAT (National Agronomic Institute of Tunisia), Tunis, Tunisia

Engineering Degree in Agricultural Sciences, 2010

Professional Experience
Intelligence Community Postdoctoral Research Associate, NOAA Air Resources Laboratory, Atmospheric Turbulence and Diffusion Division, Oak Ridge, TN USA. 2020 to present. Research Associate, University of Tennessee Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Knoxville, TN, working in residence at NOAA, Air Resources Laboratory, Atmospheric Turbulence and Diffusion Division, Oak Ridge, TN 2019 to 2020 NRC Postdoctoral Research Associate, NOAA Air Resources Laboratory, Atmospheric Turbulence and Diffusion Division, Oak Ridge, TN 2016 to 2018 Postdoctoral Scholar, INRA (French National Institute for Agricultural Research) Environmental and Arable Crops Research Unit, Grignon, France 2014 to 2015 Research Engineer, ADEME (Agency for the Environment and Energy Management), Paris, France 2011 to 2014
Nebila in field with co-researcher

Sampling vegetation and sediment in a salt marsh with Dr. Kari St. Laurent. Dr. St. Laurent is the research coordinator for the Delaware National Estuarine Research Reserve. More information is here.

Towers used in conjunction with field study

Towers used to measure Nitrogen and Carbon fluxes at the St. Jones reserve in Dover, Delaware (click on image to enlarge)

More about my research
Agriculture is a source of pollution for the atmosphere, through the use of fertilizers and pesticides to increase food production and ever growing pressures to develop agricultural land. More than 90% of all emissions to air of ammonia (NH3) derive from the agriculture sector. My main research topic is to improve understanding and predicting agricultural emissions of air pollutants such as NH3 and pesticides, I am therefore involved in:
  • Measuring trace gas and particle fluxes at different scales and using several micrometeorological techniques;
  • Collecting and analyzing experimental data needed to better understand the air-surface exchange of these pollutants;
  • Improving and developing new parameterizations to simulate air pollutants emissions from agricultural ecosystems using Surface-Atmosphere transfer models.
In addition to air quality issues in agricultural ecosystems, I am also interested in better characterizing and predicting the emission of reactive nitrogen compounds over coastal wetlands using measurement and modeling approaches. In fact, the rapid loss (1–3%/yr) of these coastal ecosystems, due to a variety of natural and anthropogenic disturbances such as nitrogen pollution, results in a significant impact on carbon sequestration capacity. During the summer of 2018, I was involved in a field study to measure atmospheric carbon and nitrogen fluxes over a coastal salt marsh in the St. Jones Reserve near Dover, Delaware. Coastal wetlands (specifically marshes, seagrasses and mangroves) provide an optimum natural environment for the sequestration and long-term storage of carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere, commonly known as coastal blue carbon. There are over 4 million acres of salt marsh in the US and over half of these are along the east coast of the US. This area presents the greatest nitrogen pollution problem in coastal marine water in U.S. due to nitrogen inputs and riverine nitrogen export. Despite this, there are limited atmospheric measurements of nitrogen in coastal areas along the east coast. The objective of this field study was to characterize the processes that influence nitrogen and CO2 fluxes and provide new knowledge regarding the impacts of disturbances on blue carbon in coastal areas. This pilot study also provided data on which we can base reliable parameterizations to simulate nitrogen emissions from coastal salt marsh ecosystems. An Air Resources Lab profile is available here. Top of page