Using AIRS Data to Detect Temperature Inversions in Near-Real Time

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Wednesday, 7 January 2015: 11:45 AM
232A-C (Phoenix Convention Center - West and North Buildings)
Mark Barker, NASA DEVELOP National Program, Pasadena, CA; and A. Schochet and J. Sanchez

Handout (895.4 kB)

Large cities and urbanized areas tend to have significant air pollution problems due to human activities which produce aerosols and toxic chemicals. While it is known to the average citizen that most cars and factories are a source of these pollutants, very few know about the hidden atmospheric phenomena that concentrate this pollution. Two of the most significant pollution focusing processes are Temperature Inversions and Ozone Intrusions. Temperature inversions prevent vertical atmospheric mixing, which leads to higher concentrations of aerosol pollution at a given locale. Higher concentrations of atmospheric pollutants that accompany temperature inversions lead to acute respiratory problems for sensitive individuals. Stratospheric ozone intrusions result in high ozone levels in the troposphere, which can damage lung tissue and causes other respiratory problems, as well as vegetation damage. This study focused on areas within North America with known high levels of pollution, such as Los Angeles, California and Hamilton, Ontario. Level 2 and Level 3 products from the Atmospheric InfraRed Sounder (AIRS) Version 6 were used to investigate temperature inversions and ozone intrusions in North America. By processing Aqua's Atmospheric InfraRed Sounder data in ArcMap, and increasing spatial resolution with local radiosondes and data from Aqua's Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS), this project developed maps highlighting areas that can potentially be hazardous to human health. The analysis incorporated previously studied temperature inversion factors such as the weekend effect and seasonal variations. The resulting maps were designed to be simple and easily accessible to the general public while maintaining information that is relevant to health and policy decision-makers.

Supplementary URL: http://earthzine.org/2014/08/03/to-breathe-or-not-to-breathe/