Remembering Bart Brashers, PhD

Since joining our team in 2008, Bart brought energy, creativity and expert insights to all his engagements as a key member of Ramboll’s Air Quality practice. 

Ramboll is deeply saddened to share that our friend and colleague Dr. Bart Brashers has passed away. The cancer Bart fought so valiantly, and seemed to have beaten five years ago, returned aggressively in April and claimed his life much too quickly.

Since joining our Lynnwood, Washington office in 2008, Bart brought energy, creativity and expert insights to all his engagements as a key member of Ramboll’s Air Quality practice. Those of us fortunate to have worked with him over the years will truly miss his intelligence, quick wit and devotion to his colleagues and family.

Bart was very giving with his time and taught a generation of air quality modelers and consulting meteorologists across the world, and particularly in Sweden. He loved expounding on complex topics and would talk as long as anyone would listen, anthropomorphizing along the way to make understanding easier. He always drew smiles as his love for teaching so clearly stemmed from his passion for everything scientific and technical.  

While Bart grew up in La Mesa, California, he was born in Stockholm, Sweden and passionate about his homeland. It was important to Bart that he keep the Swedish heritage alive in his family and among the wider Swedish-American community. Those of us who knew him personally will miss his nyckelharpa, a 600-year-old traditional Swedish instrument he was dedicated to playing and teaching others to play. Bart founded the non-profit American Nyckelharpa Association in 1995, which today boasts members from around the world. He also shared his knowledge of Swedish music and dance with a variety of publications and workshops. In recognition of his cultural contributions and accomplishments, Bart was honored by the Ethnic Heritage Council with the 2020 Pulakis Memorial Award for contributions to preserving Scandinavian music, dance and craft.

Bart received a bachelor’s degree in engineering-physics from University of California, Berkeley and a PhD in atmospheric sciences from the University of Washington. Following a postdoctoral position with the Atmospheric Modeling Division of USEPA’s National Exposure Research Laboratory (NREL) in Research Triangle Park, North Carolina, he officially joined the team in Lynnwood in 2001, and stayed on as the team joined Ramboll in 2008. 

Bart’s extensive air quality knowledge was demonstrated especially through his expertise in meteorological modeling, air quality modeling, atmospheric deposition, boundary layer meteorology, air-sea interaction, computer systems and numerical applications. He was an expert in many models, including AERMOD, CALPUFF, CMAQ, CAMx, MM5 and WRF, and also designed and implemented powerful and scalable bespoke computer systems (Linux clusters) suitable for regional meteorological and air quality models.

Over the years, Bart contributed his expertise and innovative thinking to various air quality programs and projects. He was the primary author of USEPA’s Mesoscale Model Interface (MMIF) program that directly converts output from prognostic meteorological models (i.e., WRF and MM5) to input to dispersion models (i.e., AERMOD, CALPUFF and SCICHEM).

Bart worked for many years on a project for the Great Basin Unified Air Pollutions District, where he modeled and studied the air quality issues associated with Owens Lake, the largest particulate matter source in the US. Modeling the windblown dust off the lakebed was challenging, and Bart and his team created innovative ways to address this challenge. Bart also managed a project for the Allegheny County Health Department for the 1-hour SO2 and PM2.5 State Implementation Plans (SIP) with high resolution (e.g., 444 m) WRF meteorological modeling of the complex flow fields within the twisty complex terrain of the Monongalia River Valley, using innovative air quality model applications never done before.

In addition to his influential role within our Ramboll family, Bart contributed significantly to the broader air dispersion modeling community. He was an active member of the A&WMA APM meteorology and modeling committee and taught CAMx training at several A&WMA air quality modeling specialty conferences.

Bart is survived by his wife and two teenage children. Having known and worked with Bart for more than 20 years, it is safe to say that he spent the time he was given well, and that we all are better for having known him. He will be greatly missed. 

For anyone interested in paying tribute to Bart and donating to his children’s college funds, please contribute directly to Alice's college investment plan and Emmett's college investment plan.

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