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New map offers a global view of health-sapping air pollution
Date:9/23/2010

m exposure to particulate matter in rarely studied parts of the world such as Asia's fast-growing cities or areas in North Africa with quantities of dust in the air affect human health. The new information could even be useful in parts of the United States or Western Europe where surface monitors, still the gold standard for measuring air quality, are sparse.

In addition to using satellite data from NASA's Multi-angle Imaging SpectroRadiometer (MISR) that flies on NASA's Terra satellite and the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) instrument that flies on both NASA's Aqua and Terra satellites, the researchers used output from a chemical transport model called GEOS-Chem to create the new map.

However, the map does not represent the final word on the global distribution of PM2.5, the researchers who made it emphasize. Although the data blending technique van Donkelaar applied provides a clearer global view of fine particulates, the abundance of PM2.5 could still be off by 25 percent or more in some areas due to remaining uncertainties, explained Ralph Kahn, an expert in remote sensing from NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. and one of the coauthors of the paper.

To improve understanding of airborne particles, NASA scientists have plans to participate in numerous upcoming field campaigns and satellite missions. NASA Goddard, for example, operates a global network of ground-based particle sensors called AERONET that site managers are currently working to enhance and expand. And, later next year, scientists from Goddard's Institute for Space Studies (GISS) in New York will begin to analyze the first data from Glory, a satellite that carries an innovative type of instrumenta polarimeterthat will measure particle properties in new ways and complement existing instruments capable of measuring aerosols from space.

"We still have some work to do in order to realize the full potential of satellite measure
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Contact: Adam Voiland
avoiland@sesda2.com
301-352-4631
NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center
Source:Eurekalert

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