The EPA Working Group on Satellite Observations for Air Quality Management is sponsoring a series of workshops on Satellite and Above-Boundary Layer Observations for Air Quality Management to bring together experts from the air quality management community (drawn from EPA, states, tribes, local agencies, industry, and academia) with key federal partners (NASA and NOAA) and other experts from the satellite observations community to improve our collective understanding of the potential applications of satellite observations, and complementary ground based remote sensing and other relevant measurement systems, for air quality management. This workshop series in intended to also help provide feedback to USGEO to help reach the goal of an Integrated Earth Observing System (IEOS), contributing to the GEOSS Societal Benefit Areas of Health, Climate, and Energy.
Specific objectives for the workshop series are:
This series of workshops is intended to help create a dialogue between these two communities. Through this dialogue our goal is to accelerate the use of satellite data for applications and societal benefit; further develop and maximize the use of government, private, and academic partnerships along with leveraging of existing activities between EPA, NASA, and NOAA, and assist in defining key observational and data requirements for future environmental observations (air quality relevant) from space and upper air observations .
- to accelerate the use of satellite data for applications and societal benefit;
- to further develop and maximize the use of government, private, and academic partnerships along with leveraging of existing activities between EPA, NASA, and NOAA, and
- to assist in defining key observational and data requirements for future air quality relevant environmental observations from space.
Under the Office Science Technology and Policy (OSTP), Committee on Environment and Natural Resources (CENR) Air Quality Research Subcommittee (AQRS) a draft report completed in January 2010 titled, “Air Quality Observation Systems in the United States” cataloged the variety of air quality measurement programs, projects and networks that exist, including satellite and upper air observations systems. This report highlights the need for enhanced coordination, planning, and operations for current and future measurements to increase the overall value of each observing system/measurement consistent with the goals and vision of GEOSS to build an Integrated Earth Observing System.
Satellite data that complement surface networks and other ground-based profiling data are essential tools for evaluating models and improving emissions inventories. Satellite observations do not directly correspond to in-situ measurements of pollutant concentrations. Thus, the use of satellite data for air quality forecasting, management, health effects studies, and climate change assessments is complex. While satellites offer global or near-global coverage of several important species, there are basic limitations in using a space platform to effectively probe the lower levels of the atmosphere where exposure to pollution occurs. Understanding these limitations is important for gauging how these systems complement ground-based networks and support air quality management assessments.
In addition to satellite based observations two recent National Research Council reports, Global Sources of Local Pollution: An Assessment of Long-Range Transport of Key Air Pollutants to and from the United States (NRC, 2010) and Observing Weather and Climate from the Ground Up: A Nationwide Network of Networks(NRC, 2009), highlight the need for chemical and physical measurements through the atmosphere.
Through the workshop series, EPA and its federal USGEO partners, NASA and NOAA, along with states, tribes, local agencies, industry, and academia will be able to identify where the provision of satellite data, along with ground based remote sensing, is working well in providing useful information about the horizontal and vertical distribution of pollution to State and local air quality managers and where there are gaps and opportunities to improve the process.
In addition to a need for enhanced coordination of measurements, there is also a need for better integration of the data systems that house these measurements. There is an ongoing effort under sponsored by EPA called CyAir that is working towards more complete integration among air quality data systems. The CyAir project’s specific goal is to develop a plan for the transformation of the current set of air quality-related data repositories and software tools into a service-oriented, open-source, accessible air quality data system of systems—a cyberinfrastructure for air quality management. The information obtained in these workshops will contribute to the CyAir project by allowing for the most appropriate treatment of satellite data within “CyAir” that supports air quality decision-making.