From the commute home from work to a jog in the park, almost every aspect of our daily lives is affected by the quality of the air we breathe. In order to develop better methods for global forecasting and monitoring of air quality, NASA has joined forces with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), in an initiative called GEOSS, or the Global Earth Observation System of Systems.
GEOSS is a collaborative, international effort to share and integrate Earth observation data, and tools that are developed for GEOSS will aid in managing air quality and watersheds, and will improve drinking water, protect the food supply and ensure a safer transportation system.
During the week of Earth Day (April 22) the EPA will unveil a visualization tool that illustrates the global nature of air quality, representing a first step in this collaboration among NASA, EPA and NOAA. EPA will showcase this effort at their National Computer Center, in Research Triangle Park, North Carolina to highlight a new Remote Sensing Information Gateway to support the Global Earth Observation System of Systems (GEOSS).
Image Left: Shown here is a still image captured from the EPA's visualization. In the foreground is Florida and the south-eastern United States. (Click on the image to view a high-resolution version.) Image credit: John Holdzkom and Jim Szykman.
The Earth Day visualization is a model of the cooperation that is possible among the research agencies across the U.S., as it is based on a collaborative research campaign along with on-going efforts within EPA and NOAA on air quality forecasting.
"We need visualization tools like this to see just how interconnected things really are," said Jim Szykman, EPA. "We can drill down to the local level; look at an air quality event in our neighborhood; and then step back for the big picture to see the source of the event."
The International Consortium for Atmospheric Research on Transport and Transformation campaign of summer 2004 sought to combine research focused on three main areas: regional air quality, intercontinental transport and radiation balance in the atmosphere, allowing for an unprecedented characterization of key atmospheric processes.
"Chasing" air quality events such as Alaskan wild fires and Asian, U.S., and European ozone-producing emissions, the Earth Day visualization will illustrate the ability of these research campaigns to react to the changing environment.
During the campaign, NASA and NOAA ran experiments under the Intercontinental Chemical Transport Experiment - North America (INTEX-NA) and the New England Air Quality Study - Intercontinental Transport and Chemical Transformation programs respectively; while the Europeans -- the U.K., Germany and France -- organized coordinated studies under Intercontinental Transport of Pollution.
Image Right: In celebration of Earth Day, the EPA is launching a visualization tool that uses data from last summer’s INTEX-NA field campaign. Shown here are science team members from INTEX-NA. Langley Research Center made significant contributions to this mission. (Click on the image to view a high-resolution version.) Image credit: INTEX-NA Science Team/NASA.
“These combined NASA/NOAA field campaigns provide an ideal opportunity to evaluate the impacts of measurements of ozone, aerosols, and other pollutants from NASA satellites in National Air Quality forecasting,” said R. Bradley Pierce, a research scientist at NASA Langley Research Center and one of the INTEX-NA science team members responsible for providing chemical and aerosol forecasts for mission flight planning.
Integral to the Earth Day visualization, the INTEX-NA data sets are managed by the Atmospheric Science Data Center at NASA Langley Research Center in Hampton, Va.