3D Air Quality System: Project Overview    


In order to assess airborne particulate levels, make air quality forecasts, and implement measures to meet ambient air quality standards, U.S. municipalities and states use information from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) Air Quality System (AQS) and AIRNow continuous monitoring system. Currently, these systems are ground-based and thus only provide the distribution of pollutants at the surface of the Earth in locations where in-situ monitors exist. However, during poor air quality events, it is often imperative to know the concentration and transport of pollutants aloft in the atmosphere, as well as in locations where no ground-based monitors are present.

To bridge these gaps, 3D Air Quality System (3D-AQS), funded by NASA's Applied Sciences Program, integrates NASA satellite and remote sensing data into AQS and the AirNow monitoring system. The 3D-AQS project is using a range of satellite and ground-based remote sensing instruments to expand EPA's AQS into a three-dimensional system of nation-wide coverage, with the goal of providing information on the vertical and horizontal distribution of pollutants, particularly aerosols and particulates.

The project supports the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) environmental public health tracking network and National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) air quality mapping system. The University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC) leads the project with co-investigators at Battelle Memorial Institute, University of Wisconsin-Madison, CDC, EPA, and NOAA.

MODIS Aqua true color image of southern California wildfires, October 23, 2007

MODIS Aqua true color image of southern California wildfires, October 23, 2007