Determining The Effectiveness Of Satellite Remote Sensing Products To Quantify Aerosol Pollution In The Semi-Arid Western U.S.
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Multiple investigations have found a negative impact of aerosol pollution on human health by studying the association of human health endpoints and PM2.5 (particulate matter with an aerodynamic diameter smaller than 2.5 μm) concentrations. Satellite-derived PM2.5 estimates are relevant to improve the spatial resolution of air pollution concentration estimates due to the sparse number of PM2.5 monitoring stations. PM2.5 concentrations have been successfully estimated from Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) instruments onboard Terra and Aqua satellites using retrievals of aerosol optical depth (AOD) in the dark, vegetated eastern U.S. However, the semi-arid western U.S. continues to be an unproven and infrequently explored area for remotely sensed aerosol pollution retrievals, both for evaluating the ability of satellites to quantify AOD and to estimate surface PM2.5 concentrations from columnar AOD. The goal of this dissertation is “investigating the use of satellite remote sensing products to quantify surface levels of aerosol pollution in the semi-arid western U.S.”. In this work, we evaluated different NASA aerosol products against ground-based sunphotometry data, investigated the physical processes governing the relationship between columnar AOD and surface PM2.5 mass concentrations, and applied data assimilation techniques using NASA satellite retrievals of AOD and ground-based PM2.5 concentrations to improve estimates of near surface PM2.5 mass concentrations in the semi-arid western U.S. To achieve these goals, data from multiple aerosol monitoring stations, satellite retrievals, weather balloon soundings, weather stations, emission inventory data, and model meteorological variables were used. The spatially resolved (12km x 12km horizontal resolution), daily PM2.5 estimates will be useful in future research associated with modeling smoke concentrations in urban areas, and to investigate the human health impacts associated with PM2.5 exposures (e.g., from wildfire smoke) in epidemiological studies.