Ozone pollution near Earth’s surface is one of the main ingredients of summertime smog and a primary cause of poor air quality. Yet it is not directly measurable from space because of the abundance of ozone higher in the atmosphere, which obscures measurements of surface ozone. Now NASA-funded researchers have devised a way to use satellites to measure the precursor gases that contribute to ozone formation. By differentiating among three possible conditions that lead to ground-level ozone production, the observations may assist air quality managers in assessing the most effective approaches to emission reduction and air quality improvements.
“We are using satellite data to analyze the chemistry of ozone from space,” said lead author Xiaomeng Jin of the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory. The research was published in the ‘Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres’.
“We are asking: ‘If I could reduce either VOCs or NOx, which one is going to get me the biggest bang for my buck in terms of the amount of ozone that we can prevent from being formed in the lower atmosphere?’” said co-author and atmospheric chemist Arlene Fiore of Lamont-Doherty, who is also a member of NASA’s Health and Air Quality Applied Sciences Team.
HAQAST member Arlene Fiore co-authored research with Lamont-Doherty’s Xiaomeng Jin, using the ratio of satellite HCHO to NO2 as an indicator of ozone formation. Their work was featured as the NASA Image of the Day.