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Thomas B. Watson


Watson is a Chemist and has been the leader of the Tracer Technology Group for 7 years. He has more than 21 years experience in atmospheric transport and dispersion research using intentionally released tracer compounds. His research has been focused on the processes of short- and long-range atmospheric diffusion, dispersion, and transport, and on the chemical transformation of natural and anthropogenic compounds in the atmosphere. Most of his work has been in the design, execution, and interpretation of field measurement programs and has been used in the development of predictive tools for the national security and emergency response communities. He has supervised tracer, release, sampling, and analysis for two field campaigns for Urban Dispersion Program and four programs for the Pentagon Force Protection Agency. He has also had a primary role in the planning and execution of field programs designed to improve understanding of the cycling of carbon between the atmosphere and the terrestrial biosphere. He has supervised other tracer work including building characterization and underground leak detection.


  • University of Colorado, Ph.D., Chemistry
  • University of Delaware, B.A., Mathematics

Areas of Interest

  • Atmospheric transport and dispersion
  • Chemical transformations of natural and anthropogenic compounds in the atmosphere
  • Cycling of carbon between the atmosphere and the terrestrial biosphere


  • 2/05 to present: Leader, Tracer Technology Group, Brookhaven National Laboratory.
  • 6/92 to 2/05: Deputy Director/Research Chemist, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
  • 4/00 to 5/01: Program Specialist, Detailed to: Office of Policy and Strategic Planning, NOAA Headquarters.

External Service

  • Member of the Committee on Environment and Natural Resources Research (CENR) of the National Science and Technology Council (NSTC), 4/00 to 05/01.

Selected Publications (since 2003)

Watson, T B., Sullivan, T. Feasibility of a Perfluorocarbon tracer based network to support Monitoring, Verification, and Accounting of Sequestered CO2. Environ. Sci. Technol. 46, 1692-1699, doi:10.1021/es2034284 (2012).

Luke, W. T., Arnold, J. R., Watson, T. B., Dasgupta, P. K., Li, J., Kronmiller, B. E., Hartzell, B., E., Tamanini, T., Lopez, C., and King, C. The NOAA Twin Otter and its role in BRACE: A comparison of aircraft and trace gas measurements. Atmos. Environ. 41, 4190-4209 (2007).

Luke, W. T., Arnold, J. R., Gunter, R. L., Watson, T. B., Wellman, D. L., Dasgupta, P. K., Li, J., Riemer, D., Tate, P. The NOAA Twin Otter and its role in BRACE: Platform description. Atmos. Environ. 41, 4177-4189 (2007).

Watson, T B., Wilke R., Dietz, R. N., Heiser, J., and Kalb P. The Atmospheric Background of Perfluorocarbon Compounds Used as Tracers. Environ. Sci. Technol. 41, 6909-6913 (2007).

Lioy, P. J., Vallero, D., Foley, G., Georgopoulos, P., Heiser, Watson, T. B., Reynolds, M., Daloia, J., Tong, s., Isukapalli, S.  A Personal Exposure Study Employing Scripted Activities and Paths in Conjunction with Atmospheric Releases of Perfluorocarbon Tracers in Manhattan, New York.  J.  Exposure Sci. Environ. Epidemiology 17, 409-425 (2007).

Green, M., Kuhns, H., Pitchford, M., Dietz, R., Ashbaugh, L., and Watson, T.  Application of the tracer-aerosol gradient interpretive technique (TAGIT) to sulfur attribution for the Big Bend Regional Aerosol and Visibility Observation (BRAVO) Study. J. Air & Waste Manage. Assoc. 53, 586-595 (2003).