Moving Our Air Quality Network to Space

Moving Our Air Quality Network to Space



Using the current ground-based networks of air quality measurements to understand the driving chemical and dynamic processes related to exceedances of the national standards for air pollutants is challenging and expensive given its spatial heterogeneity.  A solution is to use regional-to-global perspectives on atmospheric composition provided by satellites.  Currently, polar-orbiting satellites pass over a given location once per day, thus temporal coverage is insufficient to diagnose diurnal patterns of specific air quality parameters.  In 2017, NASA will launch a geostationary satellite (TEMPO) capable of detecting atmospheric composition and other meteorological parameters continuously over North America. 

In this seminar, we will discuss results from a NASA endeavor called DISCOVER-AQ (Deriving Information on Surface Conditions from COlumn and VERtically Resolved Observations Relevant to Air Quality).  Meteorological and chemical measurements were conducted in three locations: Baltimore/D.C. (July 2011), southern San Joaquin Valley (January 2013), and Houston, TX (September 2013).  A fourth study is planned for July 2014 in the Colorado Front Range.  Each region presents unique meteorological and chemical conditions as it relates to a satellite's ability to detect tropospheric and near-surface composition.  The results presented will highlight conditions leading to extremely poor air quality.  The improvement of satellite retrieval algorithms using these ground-based measurements will be discussed.    


Douglas grew up in southeastern Indiana.  He attended Purdue University and graduated with honors in 2002 with a Bachelor's of Science degree in Atmospheric Chemistry.  He stayed at Purdue University for graduate school, working with Dr. Paul Shepson.  His Ph.D. dissertation titled "Development of Methods for Measurement of Biosphere-Atmosphere Exchange of Carbon and Nitrogen" included results from field measurements conducted on towers in northern Michigan forests and aircrafts over Iowa corn and soybean fields.  In 2009, Douglas took a post-doctoral research position at Penn State University in the Department of Meteorology working with Dr. Anne Thompson.  He currently works at Penn State as a research associate, where he manages and operates a mobile air quality research station and teaches the "Atmospheric Measurement Principles" undergraduate course.  Over the past 4+ years, he has been involved in research projects that validate NASA satellite measurements, study the driving processes that result in poor air quality, and quantify the impact of methane leaks from natural gas activities on the oxidative capacity of the atmosphere.    

5:45pm reception (with refreshments) followed by the seminar at 6:00 in caputo 210.