Sunday, September 23, 2007

UN/Austria/ESA Symposium on “Space Tools and Solutions for Monitoring the Atmosphere in Support of Sustainable Development”: My Experience

The United Nations (UN) office for outer space affairs, the government of Austria and the European Space Agency (ESA) jointly organized a symposia on “space tools and solution for monitoring the atmosphere in support of sustainable development”. The United Nations invites participants from several nations to attend the symposium every year. There were more than 70 scientists representing more than 41 countries who gathered in Graz, Austria during September 11-14 to discuss various available space tools for monitoring the atmosphere in support of sustainable development. This year’s symposium included a hands-on tutorial and interactive training session on “Satellite Tools and Applications for Air Quality”. I was part of the team, which developed material and conducted the training session. I would really like to take this opportunity to thank my supervisor Dr. Sundar Christopher for providing me this wonderful opportunity and NASA’s applied science program manager Lawrence Friedl for financial support and organizers of the symposium for giving me this amazing opportunity to attend the symposium. It was indeed a great experience to meet and listen to many scientists from different parts of the world on many different aspects of air quality and monitoring atmospheric composition using satellite measurements.

The symposium was a good combination of invited talks, participant presentations and hands-on training workshop. Invited talks covered several important areas including overview of earth observations, satellite applications for atmospheric monitoring, global and regional initiatives, air quality (ozone and particulate matter), climate change and weather.

Hands-on training on satellite tools for air quality monitoring was informative and every single participant experienced handing of satellite data and I am very sure they enjoyed it immensely. The training used four different case studies of heavy aerosol events when particulate matter air quality on the surface was very poor in the region. Case studies covered two recent biomass burning events, one dust storm and one with a mixture of urban pollution and smoke from fires. The participants from the symposium were divided into groups of 3-4 people and each group was provided with a laptop computer. After initial introduction on monitoring air pollution from satellite observations, each group analyzed one case study. Air quality analysis includes identifying different features such as aerosols, clouds, water, land etc in the satellite images, quantifying aerosol loading using aerosol optical thickness, observations on local meteorological conditions and back trajectory analysis to track air mass in and out from the regions of interest. One of the most important parts of this exercise was to obtain different data sets and images from freely available online resources. Every group liked this part and learnt simple solutions to address specific air quality events using satellite imagery. Finally, participants used the tools that they learnt in the workshop to identify air quality color codes in their city or region of interest.

I really enjoyed the entire training session and discussed many different issued related to air quality in different parts of the world. The last day of the symposium was used to identify different problem associated with air quality research and monitoring of air pollution in the participant's country or region. There were several recommendations made by two working groups on air quality monitoring network, data sharing, and policy related issues to the United Nations.

Evening receptions and tours within Graz city were wonderful and served as a time of relaxation after the busy working days for all participants.

Finally, I would like to congratulate and thank all the people who were directly or indirectly involved in organizing such a great successful symposium.

More details about the symposium can be found out on following web link

(Pawan Gupta)
The University of Alabama in Huntsville
Huntsville, AL, USA

P.S: The participants were eager to know the various resources that are available to them on the internet for various data sources. Here are a list if some websites that will be useful.

GIOVANNI: MODIS, MISR, TOMS, OMI aerosol daily and monthly data can be obtained and visualize online using various options available.

MODIS Atmosphere: Details description on MODIS atmospheric products such as aerosols, clouds, water vapor and atmospheric profiles. This is very good site to learn about data, algorithms and updates on publications.

MODIS Rapid Response System: True-color, photo-like imagery and false-color imagery are available within a few hours of being collected by MODIS.

NASA Visible Earth: This is good catalog for different Earth’s images from NASA.

International Air Quality: This site is hosted on USEPA webpage, which provides link to available online resources for international air quality monitoring.

IDEA: This site provides surface and satellite assessment of particulate matter air quality over United States.

NRL Aerosol Page: This site provides model forecasts of various aerosol fields for global regions. This site also maintain very good list of links related to atmospheric aerosol research.

No comments: