Paper No. 14-22
Presentation Time: 1:00 PM-5:00 PM
APPALACHIAN TRAIL HEALTH AND AIR QUALITY
Ozone in the stratosphere serves as a boundary that absorbs harmful ultraviolet radiation from the sun. Ozone in the troposphere is hazardous to both human and plant health. Anthropogenic activities, such as fossil fuel combustion, are the main catalysts for high levels of tropospheric ozone, nitrogen oxides, and sulfur oxides. The warmer months, from May to September, typically display higher levels of tropospheric ozone located near urban areas with large populations. Tropospheric ozone forms from nitrogen oxides and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) reacting with sunlight, and fluctuates throughout the day displaying its peak concentration during mid-to-late afternoon. Lower concentrations occur during the early morning when the planetary boundary layer (PBL) is lowest and ozone molecules have not formed from the nitrogen oxide and VOCs reacting. NASA Earth observations can be used to monitor these atmospheric constituents. This project used Aura’s Ozone Monitoring Instrument (OMI) and Microwave Limb Sounder (MLS) to look at tropospheric ozone, nitrogen dioxide, and sulfur dioxide. The analysis and mapping of these atmospheric constituents provided data to compare to the National Park Service’s ground-level air quality stations. This project determined whether OMI and MLS are effective sensors for observing air pollutants in the troposphere and create visual aids of correlations and general trends. Our team’s findings revealed similar trends when comparing ground stations with TOR calculated from NASA Earth observations. The largest difference was observed for the months of May and September. The difference could be a result of random variability, scaling, or changing tropopause height. For future studies, the TOR calculation could incorporate more variables and utilize more advanced satellites to monitor air pollutants, such as TEMPO scheduled to launch in 2019.