Authors: Aaron Brooks, Shelby Barrett, Jamie Thompson, Yaseen Moussa, Teneala Spencer
Mentors/Advisers (affiliation): Joe Spruce (Computer Science Corporation, Stennis Space Center), Dr. Kenton Ross (Langley Research Center), Cheri Miller (Stennis Space Center)
Team Location: Stennis Space Center, Stennis Space Center, Mississippi
Abstract: Tropospheric ozone, formed when nitrogen oxides (NOx) and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) react with sunlight, is a significant threat to the health of U.S. National Forests. Approximately one-third of ozone is absorbed by plants during the uptake of carbon dioxide. This increases the vegetation’s susceptibility to drought, beetle infestation, and wildfire. Currently, the U.S. Forest Service has ground-monitoring stations sparsely located across the country. This project looked specifically at the area surrounding several Class I wilderness areas in the Appalachian region. These areas are the highest priority for protection from air pollutants. The Forest Service must interpolate ozone concentrations for areas between these monitoring stations. Class I wilderness areas, designated by the Forest Service, are those that total 5,000 acres or greater when the Clean Air Act was passed in 1977. This Act mandated that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency create national ambient air quality standards (NAAQS) for six major air pollutants including ground-level ozone. This project assessed the feasibility of incorporating NASA ozone data into Forest Service ozone monitoring in an effort to enhance the accuracy and precision of ozone exposure measurements in Class I wilderness areas and other federally managed lands to aid in complying with the Clean Air Act of 1977. This was accomplished by establishing a method of comparison between a preliminary data product produced at the Goddard Space Flight Center that uses Aura Ozone Monitoring Instrument (OMI)/Aura Microwave Limb Sounder (MLS) data to derive global tropospheric ozone measurements and Forest Service ozone monitoring station measurements. Once a methodology for comparison was established, statistical comparisons of these data were performed to assess the quantitative differences.