Tiger Teams

What is a Tiger Team?

A Tiger Team is a short-term, high-impact collaborative effort between HAQAST members and public stakeholders to identify and solve an immediate problem using NASA data and products. Each Tiger Team draws on the expertise of multiple HAQAST PIs to find the best, multifaceted solutions to pressing health and air quality issues.

  1. Satellite Data for Environmental Justice (SD4EJ)Headshot of Qian XiaoHeadshot of Susan Anenberg

Team Lead: HAQAST investigators Susan Anenberg and Qian Xiao

Partners: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Texas Department of State Health Services, Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), White House Council on Environmental Quality, University of Maryland, Baltimore County, Consortium for the Valuation of Applications Benefits Linked with Earth Science (VALUABLES), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Center for Applied Environmental Law and Policy (CAELP), DC Department of Energy & Environment, United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Office of Environmental Justice

HAQAST Members and Collaborators: Gaige Kerr, Cici Bauer, Bryan Duncan, Mariana Figueiro, Arlene Fiore, Emily Fischer, Emily Gargulinski, Dan Goldberg, Pawan Gupta, Tracey Holloway, Yang Liu, Jeff Pierce, Ted Russell, Amber Soja, Cascade Tuholske, Susana Adamo, Christopher Uejio, Daniel Tong, Jun Wang, and Randall Martin also contribute to this team.

This project enhanced the ability for stakeholders to map environmental justice (EJ) for various environmental exposures and produce new understanding of which communities may experience benefits from governmental initiatives. Specifically, this project identified communities disproportionately affected by environmental health risks and estimate the benefits of governmental investments in environmental improvements for disproportionately burdened communities. This team also built capacity among the EJ community for using and interpreting satellite datasets.

This project built relationships among scientists and stakeholders and generate future partnerships to address EJ using satellite and other Earth observing data. The team developed a central warehouse for long-term satellite data on multiple environmental exposures. The team also develop algorithms for data mapping and easy linkage with health outcomes and ethnoracial and socioeconomic characteristics at various geographic scales. As environmental injustice extends across multiple environmental risk factors and a range of applied research approaches (e.g. exposure assessment, health risk and impact assessment, geospatial mapping, epidemiology), this project brought together a broad set of HAQAST teams with complementary expertise using many satellite products. Check out the resource page here.

  1. Enabling Stakeholder Access and Utilization of Data Products for Health and AQ Applications (First Steps)Headshot of Kevin Cromar

Team Lead: HAQAST co-investigator Kevin Cromar

Partners: United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), World Bank, World Health Organization (WHO), United Nations United Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF), CDC, United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), NASA Socioeconomic Data and Applications Center (SEDAC), California Department of Public Health, Georgia Environmental Protection Division, University of British Columbia, Health Effects Institute (HEI), American Thoracic Society

HAQAST Members and Collaborators: Bryan Duncan, Ana Prados, C. Keller, Pawan Gupta, Qian Xiao, Christopher Ueijo, Susan Anenberg, Dan Goldberg, Randall Martin, Daniel Tong, Tracey Holloway also contribute to this team.

This project initiated a collaboration between HAQAST members and stakeholders to identify ways to “scale up” the potential impact of satellite data with data products that are mapped onto uniform latitude/longitude grid or with other geophysical variables to all interested stakeholders. Meeting this need will dramatically increase the use of NASA air quality data products, particularly for most potential stakeholders that do not have the financial resources or technical expertise to derive their own products

This project delivered: 1) thorough documentation of products (e.g., how it was derived, strengths and weaknesses for various applications), 2) case studies to highlight data for health and AQ applications, and 3) a “homepage” prototype (initially here) that serves as a one-stop shop for all these resources.

  1. Communicating the uncertainties of satellite-based NOx emissions for urban planningHeadshot of Dan Goldberg

Team Lead: HAQAST co-investigator Dan Goldberg

Partners: United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Health Effects Institute (HEI), Ramboll, NASA Applied Remote Sensing Training Program (ARSET), Ramboll, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL), Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME), Lake Michigan Air Directors Consortium, International Council on Clean Transportation

HAQAST Members and Collaborators: Susan Anenberg, Arlene Fiore, Tracey Holloway, Ted Russell, and Daniel Tong also contribute to this team.

Anthropogenic NOX emissions estimates from global cities remain a relatively uncertain quantity despite a recent large effort by the scientific community to reconcile these differences. New satellite instruments (e.g., TROPOMI, TEMPO) and algorithms (NASA OMI NO2 SP v4, TROPOMI NO2 v2) can provide insight on this topic with an improved accuracy. This project provided a better communication of the uncertainty bounds associated with satellite-based urban NOx emission estimates.

This project used two methods: (1) comparing satellite data to high resolution (<12 km2) model simulations and (2) comparing bottom-up emission inventory estimates to satellite-derived estimates from urban areas and power plants. Isolating satellite-model comparisons

by land use type – airport, seaport, railyard, agriculture, marine, etc. – may identify a sector of emissions that may be disproportionately erroneous. Rather than restating the typical qualitative responses that accompany most answers to satellite-based uncertainty questions (e.g., magnitude of satellite-based emissions are more uncertain than the trends), this team quantified uncertainties using sensitivity analyses (e.g., top-down NOx emissions have a XX% magnitude uncertainty, but only YY% trend uncertainty). This analysis will allow stakeholders to better interpret satellite-based NOx emissions estimates. The project engaged stakeholders to help researchers prioritize aspects of estimating NOx emissions that are the most impactful for decision-making. You can find a tutorial on how to download and use TROPOMI data here, and TROPOMI NO2 filtered for quality assurance and re-gridded here.

  1. Enabling USEPA to ingest high-frequency satellite air quality data into the AirNow systemHeadshot of Pawan Gupta

Team Lead: HAQAST investigator Pawan Gupta

Partners: Phil Dickerson and Barron Henderson with the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and Shobha Kondragunta with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

HAQAST Members and Collaborators: Jingqiu Mao, Yang Liu, Kel Markert, Robert Levy, Randall Martin, Amber J. Soja, Martin Stuefer, Jenny Bratburd, Emily Gargulinksi, Yanshun Li, and Daniel Tong also contribute to this team.

The EPA, in partnership with other federal and state agencies, operates the AirNow program (airnow.gov). The AirNow system is EPA’s one-stop resource for accessing air quality (AQ) information. The major gap in the AirNow system is limited spatial coverage from ground monitors, limited information on smoke and dust transport, and regional AQ view. NASA, NOAA, and other U.S. agencies have been building on satellite capabilities for AQ monitoring for almost two decades using low earth-orbiting satellites and, more recently, with geostationary satellites. This project initiated a new collaboration between HAQAST members, NOAA, and USEPA to develop a value added hourly and daily PM2.5 dataset covering CONUS region and integrate it into the AirNow system.

The new data layers at high temporal and spatial resolutions in the USEPA’s AirNow system will address significant monitoring gaps in many areas around the country, provide special health advisory during smoke and dust events and generate a framework for ingesting data from future NASA/NOAA missions (i.e., TEMPO, MAIA, ATMOS, GEO-XO) into a regulatory agency’s monitoring system. Thus, the project is an excellent opportunity for NASA and NOAA to incorporate Earth observations into environmental monitoring by federal agencies within the United States. You can read more about this team’s efforts here.

  1. Fused earth observations to quantify health impacts from agricultural fires Headshot of Sheryl MagzamenHeadshot of Amber Soja

Team Lead: HAQAST investigators Sheryl Magzamen and Amber Soja

Partners: Sierra Club Kansas, ProPublica/Palm Beach Post, CDC, Center for Health, Work and Environment and Mountain and Plains Educational Research Center, High Plains Intermountain Center for Agricultural Health and Safety

HAQAST Members and Collaborators: Kellin Slater, Jeff Pierce, Emily Fischer, Bonne Ford, Jun Wang, Christopher Uejio, Emily Gargulinski, Susana Adamo, Randall Martin, Susan Anenberg, Pawan Gupta, Arlene Fiore, Jingqiu Mao also contribute to this team.

Agricultural burning is an extensive and recurring annual event in several regions of the United States. Emissions from agricultural fires can have a demonstrable impact on atmospheric composition and air quality on local to regional scales. Across the U.S., smoke from agricultural burns disproportionately impacts Black communities compared to non-Hispanic White communities. This project leverages expertise among HAQAST investigators in remote sensing technology, novel technology in low-cost monitoring, and high-resolution fire-detection and Aerosol Optical Depth products from MODIS, VIIRS, and GOES-16 to quantify smoke from sugarcane residue burning in the southeastern U.S. with two study sites: western Palm Beach County, Florida and the Flint Hills region of Kansas.

To estimate the burden of disease due to smoke exposure on downwind communities, this project will conduct a health impact assessment (HIA) based on existing concentration response functions for PM2.5. This project will serve as a best practice for conducting exposure

assessment using a fusion approach for other agricultural burning practices across the United States. You can learn more about this project from Amber Soja’s presentation at HAQAST Wisconsin.

Headshot of Susan Anenberg
Susan Anenberg

1. Using Satellite Remote Sensing to Derive Global Climate and Air Pollution Indicators

Team Lead: HAQAST investigator Susan Anenberg

Partners: Lancet Commission on Pollution and Health, University College London/Lancet Countdown, and the Health Effects Institute/State of Global Air

HAQAST Members and Collaborators: Jeremy Hess, Bryan Duncan, Arlene Fiore, Daven Henze, Patrick Kinney, Lok Lamsal, Yang Liu, Daniel Tong, and Jason West also contribute to this team

This project initiates a new collaboration between HAQAST members and LCPH, Lancet Countdown, and SoGA projects with the aim of developing satellite-derived air pollution and climate indicators at the global scale. Specifically, this team will use satellite remote sensing to:

  1. Transfer knowledge and global-scale datasets tracking indicators for ozone and NOconcentration, PM2.5 and ozone disease burden in cities, and wildfire occurrence
  2. Scope the potential for using satellite remote sensing to track global airborne dust storms and pollen season start date and duration. The project draws from a variety of satellite remote sensing products. HAQAST team members will work collaboratively across indicators to share information and work towards achieving consistency among years, metrics, and outputs.

This project will provide quantitative estimates of ozone and NO2concentrations, ozone and PM2.5 disease burdens in megacities, and wildfire occurrence globally. This team will develop a methods scoping document for using satellite remote sensing to track dust storms and pollen season start date globally. In addition, they will also help develop a comprehensive set of global pollution and climate indicators for a Global Pollution Observatory that will collect and periodically report on pollution-related data, expected to be established in the near future by the LCPH. Over the long term, results may also be used to generate estimates of the global burden of disease from wildfires, dust, and pollen, and to examine historical trends as well as future climate impacts.

For more information, you can find results from this project published this paper, “Using Satellites to Track Indicators of Global Air Pollution and Climate Change Impacts: Lessons Learned From a NASA-Supported Science-Stakeholder Collaborative.

2. Supporting the Use of Satellite Data in Regional Haze Planning

Headshot of Arlene Fiore
Arlene Fiore

Team Lead: HAQAST member Arlene Fiore


HAQAST Members and Collaborators: Bryan Duncan, Daven Henze, Patrick Kinney, Talat Odman, Ted Russell, Daniel Tong, Jason West and Mark Zondlo also contribute to this team

This team proposes to work with stakeholders to address three applications of satellite data of direct relevance to regional haze SIPs. The team will develop technical guidance documents that describe their approaches to using satellite data for regional haze applications. They anticipate that the guidance developed under this project will also be relevant to health agencies seeking to assess health burdens due to natural events (e.g., dust, wildfires) associated with severe health effects. In addition, they’ll aid air quality managers in the use of satellite data in the Regional Haze SIP process, provide tangible examples of the value of satellite data for addressing air quality and related health applications, to aid stakeholders who wish to conduct their own analyses, and lower the barrier for new health and air quality stakeholder agencies to apply satellite data.

You can find more information, including a series of technical guidance documents, aimed at regional air-quality managers, available here.

3. Satellite-Evaluated and Satellite-Informed O3 Distributions for Estimating U.S. Background O3

Headshot of Jessica Neu
Jessica Neu

Team Lead: HAQAST member Jessica Neu

Partners: BAAQMD, the South Coast Air Quality Management District, the California Air Resources Board, CT DEEP,New Hampshire Air Resources Division, New York State Department of Air Quality, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, WESTAR & WRAP, US EPA, and OAQPS

HAQAST Members and Collaborators: Arlene Fiore, Daven Henze, Brad Pierce, Ted Russell, Jason West, and Anne Thompson also contribute to this team

This team will provide a coordinated set of boundary conditions for O3, background O(no U.S. anthropogenic emissions), and natural O(no global anthropogenic emissions) for 2016 from multiple global models, many of which are informed by satellite data (e.g., assimilating satellite products). Their goal is to improve the quantification of background Oin SIPs, a critical component of the development of our stakeholders’ attainment plans. This team will also establish ‘best practices’ for evaluating models with satellite Omeasurements, and for evaluating satellite-informed simulations with independent datasets such as those from surface stations and ozonesondes (lightweight, balloon-borne instruments that are paired with conventional meteorological radiosonde).

This project resulted in the delivery of a variety of O3 boundary conditions, in the most popular file formats identified by air-quality stakeholders, for use in modelling O3 transport from other countries into the U.S.

4. Air Quality and Health Burden of 2017 California Wildfires

Headshot of Susan O’Neill
Susan O’Neill

Team Lead: HAQAST member Susan O’Neill

Partners: BAAQMD, NOAA, the USFS Fire & Aviation Management Program, EPA, Sonoma Technology Inc., the National Park Service, Princeton University, the University of Washington, and the University of California, Davis

HAQAST Members and Collaborators: Daniel Tong, Talat Odman, Minghui Diao, Jason West, Pat Kinney, Brad Pierce, Jessica Neu, and Sim Larkin also contribute to this team

On October 8-9, 2017, a series of wildfires started in the northern San Francisco Bay Area, spread quickly over nine counties and became major fires in the region. Because of the smoke and prevailing weather conditions, PM2.5 concentrations reached the highest levels ever recorded in the region. All 13 air monitoring stations in the Bay Area captured at least one exceedance of the US EPA’s 24-hr average PM2.5 standard. Thus, virtually all of the 7.2 million people living in the Bay Area were exposed to unhealthy air during the wildfire period.

This team will assess the effects of wildfire smoke on the air quality and human health burden resulting from October 2017 California wildfires using a combination of satellite data, air quality modeling, health risk information and hospital incidence rates. They will prepare a detailed wildfire emissions inventory, estimate the air quality impacts of wildfire emissions, use satellite and ground-based observations to evaluate model results and iteratively refine wildfire emission estimates to improve the CMAQ model predictions, and utilize short-term exposure-response relationships already established between PM2.5and public health to assess health impacts of wildfire-induced pollutant exposure.

Wildfire smoke impacts will recur in the future in California and elsewhere, and having a system that can accurately estimate those impacts, not only in terms of PM2.5, but in terms of short-term exposure-response relationships is critical to future planning of emergency responders to protect public health. End users such as the BAAQMD envision using this project information as a basis for an emergency response manual to help inform emergency responders regarding expected levels of ambient PM based on the nature of wildfire and the number of people who may need medical attention.

Learn more at the team’s website.

Headshot of Jason West
Jason West
Headshot of Bryan Duncan
Bryan Duncan

1. Demonstration of the Efficacy of Environmental Regulations in the Eastern U.S.

Team Leads: HAQAST members Bryan Duncan and Jason West

Partners: Mid-Atlantic Regional Air Quality Management Association, the Maryland Department of the Environment, the EPA, the Centers for Disease Control/National Center for Environmental Health, the Northeast States for Coordinated Air Use Management, and the Connecticut Department of Energy & Environmental Protection

HAQAST Members and Collaborators: Mark Zondlo, Ted Russell, Yang Liu, Arlene Fiore, Lok Lamsal, Daniel Tong, and Daven Henze also contribute to this team

Between 1990 and 2015, the U.S. average concentration of PM2.5 decreased by 37%, while O3 decreased by 22%. Many observers expect such reductions to have brought substantial benefits for public health in the U.S., but assessing the health benefit requires an understanding of where air quality has improved relative to where people live. This team will demonstrate the efficacy of air quality regulations by analyzing the time trends for levels of ozone (O3), nitrogen dioxide (NO2—an O3 precursor), particulate matter (PM), and PM precursors, including NO2, sulfur dioxide (SO2), and ammonia (NH3) in the northeastern U.S., to determine how they affect population health during the same period. ​

For more information, PIs Duncan and West’s team have populated their website with forecasts, impacts, and detailed information on O3, PM2.5, and other pollutants. 

Read a brief overview here.

Headshot of Arlene Fiore
Arlene Fiore

2. Supporting the Use of Satellite Data in State Implementation Plans (SIPs)

Team Lead: HAQAST member Arlene Fiore

Partners: California’s South Coast Air Quality Management District, the Connecticut Department of Energy & Environmental Protection, the Mid-Atlantic Regional Air Quality Management Association, Northeast States for Coordinated Air Use Management, Georgia Environmental Protection Division, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, the Bay Area Air Quality Management District, and the EPA

HAQAST Members and Collaborators: Bryan Duncan, Jessica Neu, Daven Henze, Talat Odman, Ted Russell, Patrick Kinney, Daniel Tong, Mark Zondlo, Jonathan Patz, and Tracey Holloway also contribute to this team

Under the U.S. National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS), states in non-attainment of criteria pollutants, such as ozone and PM2.5, must submit State Implementation Plans (SIPs) to demonstrate their approach to achieving NAAQS compliance. Satellite data may be included in SIPs as part of a weight-of-evidence approach to show that a particular strategy is anticipated to succeed in attainment, or to show that transported pollution is confounding attainment efforts. Yet, questions often arise as to the accuracy of satellite data, the specific meteorological conditions and spatial or temporal averaging scales over which the product is most reliable, and whether a particular satellite product can be used for a desired application.

This team will work closely with at least three air agencies that are already incorporating satellite data into the SIP process and identify at least three different applications of satellite data to be showcased in a user-friendly, technical-guidance document. Each document will include frequently asked questions (FAQs) and will be “beta-tested” by at least one other air agency. The team will disseminate these case studies widely, including via the NASA Air Quality from Space website, with the goal of enabling other current and future users of satellite data in the SIP process to learn from “early-adopter” air quality managers.​

For more information, this team has developed a suite of easy-to-follow technical guidance documents that support state and local air quality agencies that want to bring the power of NASA’s satellites to bear on the documentation of exceptional events.

Read a brief overview here.

Headshot of Patrick Kinney
Patrick Kinney

3. High Resolution Particulate Matter Data for Improved Satellite-Based Assessments of Community Health

Team Lead: HAQAST investigator Patrick Kinney

Partners: New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, the California Department of Public Health, the City of Boston Environment Department, the South Coast Air Quality Management District, and the California Air Resources Board.

HAQAST Members and Collaborators: Frank Freedman, Yang Liu, Matt Strickland, Daven Henze, Arlene Fiore, Susan Anenberg, Mohammed Al-Hamda, Akula Venkatram, Mark Zondlo, Susan O’Neill, and Daniel Tong are also members of this team

Health departments and urban planners have growing needs for high-resolution data on urban-air-pollution concentrations to quantify existing health burdens at the neighborhood scale, to identify and prioritize exposure-reduction strategies for pollution hot spots, to track progress in achieving air-quality-related health-improvement goals, and to assess health co-benefits of longer-term carbon-mitigation strategies. To date, however, few data exist to inform these high-priority urban-health objectives. Newly available 1×1 km aerosol optical depth retrievals from NASA MODIS remote sensing provide opportunities to construct higher-resolution PM2.5 spatial fields for intra-urban public-health assessments. The retrievals also can serve as a launching pad for further downscaling using emerging low-cost sensors in conjunction with land use regression and dispersion models.

The overall objective of this Tiger Team project is to construct gridded PM2.5 spatial fields on 1-km MAIAC satellite-based aerosol optical depth retrievals, and to explore methods by which these can be downscaled using hi-density urban networks of low-cost sensors and dispersion modeling. The goal is to provide new tools for assessing air-pollution-related health burdens and mitigation strategies in community settings. This work will be carried out across four communities: New York City, Boston, Los Angeles, and California’s Imperial Valley.​

In September, 2018, Kinney led a webinar on Assessing the Health Impact of Air Quality at the Community Scale. You can watch the webinar here:

For more information, PI Kinney and his team have developed a website to profile their research and research team. 

Read a brief overview here.

Headshot of Daniel Tong
Daniel Tong
Headshot of Brad Pierce
Brad Pierce

4. Improved National Emissions Inventory NOx emissions using OMI Tropospheric NO2 retrievals and Potential Impacts on Air Quality Strategy Development

Team Lead: HAQAST investigator R. Bradley Pierce and member Daniel Tong

Partners: NOAA/Air Resources laboratory, NOAA/National Weather Service, EPA/Office of Air Quality Planning and Standards, the Centers for Disease Control, Lake Michigan Air Directors Consortium, and NOAA/Earth System Research Laboratory.

HAQAST Members and Collaborators: Ted Russell, Tracey Holloway, Susan O’Neill, and Daven Henze are also members of this team.

The overall goal of this HAQAST Tiger Team effort is to improve estimates of National Emissions Inventory (NEI) area and point source NOx emissions using NO2 retrievals from the NASA Ozone Monitoring Instrument (OMI) and the NASA Geostationary Trace gas and Aerosol Sensor Optimization (GeoTASO).

Recent studies suggest that NOx emissions are overestimated in the NEI. These overestimates can affect model predictions of ozone and nitrate aerosol concentrations, leading to systematic biases in forecasts of surface ozone and nitrate aerosols. Improving constraints on anthropogenic area and non-EGU point source emissions (including wild and prescribed fires) within NEI can lead to improved forecasts thereby improving NWS air quality forecasting, EPA/CDC exposure assessments, and state SIP modeling.

For more information, visit PI Pierce and Tong’s Improved NOx Emissions Using OMI news page.

Read a brief overview here.