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NASA satellite improves pollution monitoring
Date:7/25/2010

MADISON, WI, July 26th, 2010 NASA scientists improved watershed pollution monitoring models by incorporating satellite and ground-based observations of precipitation. The NASA data replaces weather station observations, and will allow states to monitor non-point pollution and improve water quality.

The research team, led by Joseph Nigro of Science Systems and Applications, Inc., incorporated two NASA products into a computer program in BASINS (Better Assessment Science Integrating Nonpoint Sources) that calculates streamflow rates and pollution concentrations.

The current model uses meteorological data from weather stations, which can miss precipitation events and cause errors in modeling water quality. With better precipitation data, scientists will be able to obtain better estimates of the amount of pollution a body of water can carry before it is determined to be "polluted."

The study revealed that both NASA products dramatically improved water quality model performance over the default weather stations. Both systems improved model performance but neither one was consistently better than the other. The NASA data systems were better able to capture the effects of water flow during storm periods that occur frequently in the summer months. This is due to the seamless coverage of the datasets as opposed to a single weather station that cannot represent all precipitation events in a given watershed.

The two data products that were selected for this study are the NASA-modified North American Land Data Assimilation System (NLDAS) 1/8th degree precipitation and the Stage IV 4-kilometer dataset developed by the NOAA River Forecast Center Multisensor Precipitation Estimator. The results from the study were reported in the July-August 2010 issue of the Journal of Environmental Quality, published by the America Society of Agronomy, the Crop Science Society of America, and the Soil Science Society of America.

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Contact: Sara Uttech
suttech@sciencesocieties.org
608-268-4989
American Society of Agronomy
Source:Eurekalert  

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