Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

ASU researchers use NASA satellites to improve pollution modeling

19.12.2007
Detecting pollution, like catching criminals, requires evidence and witnesses; but on the scale of countries, continents and oceans, having enough detectors is easier said than done.

A team of air quality modelers, climatologists and air policy specialists at Arizona State University may soon change that. Under a grant from the Environmental Protection Agency, they have developed a new way to close the gaps in the global pollution dragnet by using NASA satellite data to detect precursors to ozone pollution, also known as smog.

The technique, devised with the aid of health specialists from University of California at Berkeley, uses satellite data to improve ASU’s existing computer models of ozone events — filling in the blanks while expanding coverage to much larger areas.

“The satellite data provides information about remote locations,” said Rick Van Schoik, director of ASU’s North American Center for Transborder Studies. “It gives us data from oceans and about events from other countries with less advanced monitoring capabilities, such as Mexico.”

Such information can have vital implications for health, especially in southern Arizona. According to Joe Fernando, a professor in ASU’s department of mechanical and aerospace engineering and the environmental fluid dynamics program, who worked on the project, ozone is a key ingredient in urban smog, which affects even healthy adults and presents a special health risk to small children, the elderly and those with lung ailments. It can cause shortness of breath, chest pains, increased risk of infection, aggravation of asthma and significant decreases in lung function. Some studies have linked ozone exposure with death by stroke, premature death among people with severe asthma, cardiac birth defects and reduced lung-function growth in children.

This new satellite-assisted model could allow researchers to see an ozone plume forming and work with communities to head off health effects in advance.

“Before, if there were precursors of an ozone event, we couldn’t see them — we just got hit by the pollution,” Van Schoik said. “Now, we can watch the event build.”

Improved oceanic coverage could also help with monitoring one of the largest sources of pollution along the coasts: oceanic ships, which are covered only by international treaties and are not regulated by the EPA.

Ozone forms when nitrogen oxides and volatile organic hydrocarbons — byproducts of fossil fuel pollution — react with one another in the presence of sunlight and warm temperatures, resulting in a chain reaction. This chain reaction can mean that large amounts of ozone can bloom from even moderate amounts of nitrogen oxides.

Scientists can detect ozone by detecting the absorption of specific wavelengths of light, but they have had to rely on ground data and radiosondes — atmospheric instrumentation bundles sent up on weather balloons — to surmount the large uncertainties associated with the technique.

“This is the reason comparisons were made between low-level ozone direct measurements with those obtained from satellites,” said Fernando. “The importance is that the satellite data were used to improve model performance — that this work will lead to better model predictions and hence superior forecasting of ozone and improved health warnings.”

The satellites currently provide data every 16 days. Each square, or pixel, of the grid they cover is five by eight kilometers, but Van Schoik said that the resolution would continue to improve.

“NASA has developed tools that are starting to fulfill much of the promise that we hoped for when NASA began engaging in global environmental monitoring,” he said. “With each member of our team adding their own expertise, we are seeing just how powerful that can be.”

Skip Derra | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.asu.edu

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht Litter is present throughout the world’s oceans: 1,220 species affected
27.03.2017 | Alfred-Wegener-Institut, Helmholtz-Zentrum für Polar- und Meeresforschung

nachricht International network connects experimental research in European waters
21.03.2017 | Leibniz-Institut für Gewässerökologie und Binnenfischerei (IGB)

All articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Giant Magnetic Fields in the Universe

Astronomers from Bonn and Tautenburg in Thuringia (Germany) used the 100-m radio telescope at Effelsberg to observe several galaxy clusters. At the edges of these large accumulations of dark matter, stellar systems (galaxies), hot gas, and charged particles, they found magnetic fields that are exceptionally ordered over distances of many million light years. This makes them the most extended magnetic fields in the universe known so far.

The results will be published on March 22 in the journal „Astronomy & Astrophysics“.

Galaxy clusters are the largest gravitationally bound structures in the universe. With a typical extent of about 10 million light years, i.e. 100 times the...

Im Focus: Tracing down linear ubiquitination

Researchers at the Goethe University Frankfurt, together with partners from the University of Tübingen in Germany and Queen Mary University as well as Francis Crick Institute from London (UK) have developed a novel technology to decipher the secret ubiquitin code.

Ubiquitin is a small protein that can be linked to other cellular proteins, thereby controlling and modulating their functions. The attachment occurs in many...

Im Focus: Perovskite edges can be tuned for optoelectronic performance

Layered 2D material improves efficiency for solar cells and LEDs

In the eternal search for next generation high-efficiency solar cells and LEDs, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and their partners are creating...

Im Focus: Polymer-coated silicon nanosheets as alternative to graphene: A perfect team for nanoelectronics

Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are less stable. Now researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have, for the first time ever, produced a composite material combining silicon nanosheets and a polymer that is both UV-resistant and easy to process. This brings the scientists a significant step closer to industrial applications like flexible displays and photosensors.

Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are...

Im Focus: Researchers Imitate Molecular Crowding in Cells

Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to simulate these confined natural conditions in artificial vesicles for the first time. As reported in the academic journal Small, the results are offering better insight into the development of nanoreactors and artificial organelles.

Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

International Land Use Symposium ILUS 2017: Call for Abstracts and Registration open

20.03.2017 | Event News

CONNECT 2017: International congress on connective tissue

14.03.2017 | Event News

ICTM Conference: Turbine Construction between Big Data and Additive Manufacturing

07.03.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Northern oceans pumped CO2 into the atmosphere

27.03.2017 | Earth Sciences

Fingerprint' technique spots frog populations at risk from pollution

27.03.2017 | Life Sciences

Big data approach to predict protein structure

27.03.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>