Before, if there were precursors of an ozone event, we couldnt see them we just got hit by the pollution, Van Schoik said. Now, we can watch the event build.
Improved oceanic coverage could also help with monitoring one of the largest sources of pollution along the coasts: oceanic ships, which are covered only by international treaties and are not regulated by the EPA.
Ozone forms when nitrogen oxides and volatile organic hydrocarbons byproducts of fossil fuel pollution react with one another in the presence of sunlight and warm temperatures, resulting in a chain reaction. This chain reaction can mean that large amounts of ozone can bloom from even moderate amounts of nitrogen oxides.
Scientists can detect ozone by detecting the absorption of specific wavelengths of light, but they have had to rely on ground data and radiosondes atmospheric instrumentation bundles sent up on weather balloons to surmount the large uncertainties associated with the technique.
This is the reason comparisons were made between low-level ozone direct measurements with those obtained from satellites, said Fernando. The importance is that the satellite data were used to improve model performance that this work will lead to better model predictions and hence superior forecasting of ozone and improved health warnings.
The satellites currently provide data every 16 days. Each square, or pixel, of the grid they cover is five by eight kilometers, but Van Schoik said that the resolution would continue to improve.
NASA has developed tools that are starting to fulfill much of the promise that we hoped for when NASA began engaging in global environmental monitoring, he said. With each member of our team adding their own expertise, we are seeing just how powerful that can be.
|Contact: Skip Derra|
Arizona State University