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Sensor web simulation investigates technique to improve prediction of pollution across the globe

For asthmatics and for anyone with respiratory problems, air pollution can significantly impair simple everyday activities. NASA is trying to tie together satellites and stations on the ground to develop a "sensor web" to track this pollution and improve air quality forecasts.

Understanding how tropospheric or near-surface-level ozone is produced, distributed and transported from city to city, region to region and continent to continent is an important step toward improving the complex mathematical computer models used to forecast air pollution as we do for weather. Such models can be used to provide alerts days in advance so that people sensitive to pollutants can modify planned outdoor activities to minimize their exposure.

The troposphere is where we all live, work, play and breathe! It's the region of the atmosphere where our weather occurs and it extends from the Earth's surface to roughly the cruising altitude of a passenger jet - about 40,000 feet. In some cases air pollutants have natural causes such as lightning induced wildfires that can emit large plumes of particulates into the troposphere. Fossil fuel burning in industrial areas and vehicular traffic in metropolitan areas are also major pollutant sources. Complex chemical interactions and atmospheric processes can transport these pollutants across thousands of miles.

To improve our ability to track the transport of pollutants from their various sources to populated cities and towns around the globe, NASA technologists are exploring an innovative technology called the "sensor web." This interconnected "web of sensors" coordinates observations by spacecraft, airborne instruments and ground-based data-collecting stations. Instead of operating independently, these sensors collect data as a collaborative group, sharing information about an event as it unfolds over time. The sensor web system is able to react by making new, targeted measurements as a volcanic ash plume is transported to
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Source:NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center--EOS Project Science Office


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