Until recently, particulate matter (smoke and dust in air resulting from fires) data collection has been mostly performed via ground-based monitoring. And the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (USEPA) “AirNow” program at airnow.gov is the primary source of air quality information accessed by researchers, weather forecasters, and the public. Gaps in the spatial coverage and resolution of ground-based monitors make it difficult to produce accurate and accessible real-time data across the entire country.
To address this issue, Dr. Pawan Gupta, senior scientist of Universities Space Research Association (USRA), is leading a group of scientists from NASA’s Health and Air Quality Applied Sciences Team (HAQAST) to coordinate with the USEPA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA). Under this HAQAST tiger team project, scientists will facilitate access to new particulate matter data being collected by NOAA-NASA’s most advanced geostationary weather satellites. NOAA partners will process raw data from the GOES-R series of satellites before sending it to HAQAST partners for further refinement, value addition, and integration with ground-based monitoring data. The USEPA will then integrate the final datasets into the “AirNow” website and make them available to the end-user community.
Continuous data collection from the GOES-R satellites will make it possible for scientists to provide hourly and daily particulate matter reports. These enhancements in data collection and sharing will lead to faster, more informed responses during hazardous air quality events.
Image credit: Rachel Wyatt (communication coordinator for the project, a UAH student)