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ASU researchers use NASA satellites to improve pollution modeling
Date:12/17/2007

TEMPE, Ariz. -- Detecting pollution, like catching criminals, requires evidence and witnesses; but on the scale of countries, continents and oceans, having enough detectors is easier said than done.

A team of air quality modelers, climatologists and air policy specialists at Arizona State University may soon change that. Under a grant from the Environmental Protection Agency, they have developed a new way to close the gaps in the global pollution dragnet by using NASA satellite data to detect precursors to ozone pollution, also known as smog.

The technique, devised with the aid of health specialists from University of California at Berkeley, uses satellite data to improve ASUs existing computer models of ozone events filling in the blanks while expanding coverage to much larger areas.

The satellite data provides information about remote locations, said Rick Van Schoik, director of ASUs North American Center for Transborder Studies. It gives us data from oceans and about events from other countries with less advanced monitoring capabilities, such as Mexico.

Such information can have vital implications for health, especially in southern Arizona. According to Joe Fernando, a professor in ASUs department of mechanical and aerospace engineering and the environmental fluid dynamics program, who worked on the project, ozone is a key ingredient in urban smog, which affects even healthy adults and presents a special health risk to small children, the elderly and those with lung ailments. It can cause shortness of breath, chest pains, increased risk of infection, aggravation of asthma and significant decreases in lung function. Some studies have linked ozone exposure with death by stroke, premature death among people with severe asthma, cardiac birth defects and reduced lung-function growth in children.

This new satellite-assisted model could allow researchers to see an ozone plume forming and work with communities to h
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Contact: Skip Derra
skip.derra@asu.edu
480-965-4823
Arizona State University
Source:Eurekalert

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