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NASA shares real-time, high-resolution air quality data – AirQualityNews

NASA’s Tropospheric Emissions: Monitoring of Pollution satellite instrument (TEMPO), launched last April, aimed to change the way scientists observe North American air quality from space.

Yesterday, the Atmospheric Science Data Center at NASA’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia, announced that they would make this near real-time data available to any organization that could benefit from it.

NASA scientists have been collecting local air pollution measurements from low Earth orbit for more than two decades, but from TEMPO’s geostationary position 22,000 miles above North America, it will be able to cover the entire continent once an hour.

By measuring how sunlight is absorbed and scattered by gases and particles in the troposphere (the lowest layer of Earth’s atmosphere), TEMPO detects most of the major pollutants, including nitrogen dioxide, formaldehyde, ground-level ozone, aerosols and formaldehyde , from sources such as cars, oil refineries and forest fires.

Hazem Mahmoud, science lead at NASA Langley’s Atmospheric Science Data Center, said: ‘All the pollutants that TEMPO measures cause health problems. We already have more than 500 early adopters who are using these datasets right away. We expect epidemiologists and health experts to use this data in the near future. Researchers studying the respiratory system and the impact of these pollutants on human health will find TEMPO’s measurements invaluable.”

Xiong Liu, senior physicist at the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory and principal investigator of the mission said: ‘Data collected by TEMPO will play an important role in the scientific analysis of pollution. For example, we will be able to research peak-hour pollution, the link between disease and health problems and acute exposure to air pollution, the way air pollution disproportionately impacts disadvantaged communities, the potential for better air quality warnings, the effects of lightning on the ozone layer. , and the movement of pollution from forest fires and volcanoes.”

TEMPO’s data will be particularly valuable for monitoring air quality in rural areas, where monitoring stations are often hundreds of kilometers apart.

An early adopter of TEMPO data is the University of Nebraska Medical Center’s Water, Climate, and Health Program. Jesse Bell, executive director there, explained: “Poor air quality worsens pre-existing health problems, leading to more hospital admissions.

“Low-income communities, on average, have worse air quality than more affluent communities. For example, we conducted studies and found that in Douglas County, which surrounds Omaha, the east side of the county has higher rates of childhood asthma hospitalizations. When we identify which populations are more likely to go to the hospital than others, they are communities of color and those with indicators of poverty. Data collected by TEMPO will be incredibly important because you can get better spatial and temporal resolution of air quality in places like Douglas County.”

The National Park Service is another organization that has already benefited from the data. NPS chemist Barkley Sive said, “We are using TEMPO data to gain new insight into emerging air quality issues in parks in southeastern New Mexico. Oil and gas emissions from the Permian Basin have affected air quality in Carlsbad Caverns and other parks and their surrounding communities. While pollution control strategies have successfully reduced ozone levels in most of the United States, the data helps us understand the region’s deteriorating air quality.”

NASA Administrator Bill Nelson said, “TEMPO is one of NASA’s Earth-observing instruments that is making giant leaps to improve life on our home planet. NASA and the Biden-Harris administration are committed to addressing the climate crisis and making climate data more accessible and accessible to everyone. The air we breathe affects everyone, and this new data is revolutionizing the way we monitor air quality for the benefit of humanity.”

Image of the homepage: © Maxar.

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