2009 Portland GSA Annual Meeting (18-21 October 2009)
Paper No. 192-13
Presentation Time: 9:00 AM-6:00 PM

USING GOOGLE EARTH TO EXAMINE METROPOLITAN AIR POLLUTION

URBAN, Michael J., Division of Professional Studies, University of Maine at Machias, 9 O'Brien Avenue, Machias, ME 04654, michael.urban@maine.edu

Google Earth™ is a powerful, user-friendly, and popular tool for exploring the Earth. In addition to providing basic visual and geographical information, Google Earth can be used to explore multiple and varied layers of data simultaneously via a transparency function. One way to use Google Earth involves the analysis of KML data files that can be downloaded at, or generated from, a variety of Internet servers and databases. Activities that foster authentic data analysis with visualization technologies in the context of real-world scenarios and that address the aims of science and technology literacy (American Association for the Advancement of Science, 1993; National Research Council, 1996) are useful and in demand. One example of an activity that incorporates NASA nitrogen dioxide data for the purposes of examining air quality is “Exploring Air Quality in Aura NO2 data” (Urban, Bojkov, Carter, Dogancay, & Fermann, 2008). The activity illustrates an innovative way to examine the potential for photochemical smog and other air pollution with Google Earth by analyzing the concentrations of atmospheric nitrogen dioxide data collected by NASA’s Aura satellite (NASA, 2007). The relationships of nitrogen dioxide concentration to topography and population density are analyzed by overlaying the datasets and using the transparency feature of Google Earth. Different spatial and temporal differences of the data are explored as well.

In addition to providing authentic exposure to the analysis of a real-world problem, the activity also illustrates how a commonly available virtual globe (Google Earth) can be utilized for purposes that extend beyond basic geographical considerations. Google Earth is a powerful classroom tool that can and should be used in the geoscience classroom, and the authors of innovative applications of it and similar visualization technologies should willingly and eagerly share their examples for the benefit of science educators and students everywhere.

2009 Portland GSA Annual Meeting (18-21 October 2009)
General Information for this Meeting
Session No. 192--Booth# 371
From Virtual Globes to Geoblogs: Digital Innovations in Geoscience Research, Education, and Outreach (Posters)
Oregon Convention Center: Hall A
9:00 AM-6:00 PM, Tuesday, 20 October 2009

Geological Society of America Abstracts with Programs, Vol. 41, No. 7, p. 501

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