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Satellite Remote Sensing for Air Quality Analysis in Central America. Dr. Ana Prados UMBC/JCET [email protected] 301-614-5494. Dr. Amy K. Huff Battelle Memorial Institute [email protected] 703-875-2975. Betzy Hernandez CATHALAC [email protected] Acknowledgements.

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Satellite remote sensing for air quality analysis in central america

Satellite Remote Sensing for Air Quality Analysis in Central America

Dr. Ana Prados


[email protected]


Dr. Amy K. Huff

Battelle Memorial Institute

[email protected]


Betzy Hernandez


[email protected]

Acknowledgements America

  • NASA Applied Sciences Program: Lawrence A. Friedl, Daniel E. Irwin

  • U.S. EPA: Orlando Gonzales, Lourdes Morales

  • National University: José Félix Rojas, Jorge Herrera

  • CATHALAC: Emil Cherrington, Francisco Delgado, Africa Flores, Eric Anderson, Valerie Garrish

  • University of Panama: Vasco Duke, Hipólito Guerra, Wilfredo Urriola

  • University of Maryland, Baltimore County: Ray Hoff, Hai Zhang, Ruben Delgado, Nikisa Jordan

What is remote sensing
What is Remote Sensing? America

Remote sensing is a method of obtaining information about the properties of an object without coming into physical contact with it.

Why use satellites to study the earth
Why use Satellites to Study the Earth? America

  • Consistent, routine, global measurements

  • Overview of information on the hemispheric, regional, national, and local scales – the “big picture”

  • Provide information in areas where there are no ground-based measurements

  • Advance warning of impending environmental events and disasters

  • Visual appeal: a picture is worth a thousand words

Satellites provide a global view
Satellites Provide a Global View America

Satellite data are used for many applications, including monitoring global weather, studying climate change, and observing the environment.

A picture is worth a thousand words
A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words! America

Satellites provide consistent, routine, global coverage of environmental events

Important satellite characteristics spatial resolution
Important Satellite Characteristics: AmericaSpatial Resolution

  • Spatial resolution is the smallest area on Earth that a satellite can observe.

    • Depends on the type of instrument

    • Low spatial resolution (e.g., 10 km): can seelarge regional features (cities, forests, lakes)

    • High spatial resolution (e.g., 10 m): can see detailed features (buildings, roads, trees)

Important Satellite Characteristics: Temporal Resolution America

  • Temporal resolution is how frequently a satellite observes the same area on Earth.

    • Depends primarily on the orbit of the satellite

    • High temporal resolution (e.g., 30 minutes): nearly continuous observations

    • Low temporal resolution (e.g., 1 day): only one observation per day

Geostationary satellites
Geostationary Satellites America

  • In high altitude orbit (~35,800 km)

  • Orbital period of satellite matches rotational speed of Earth

  • Continuously observe same area on Earth

  • Very high temporal resolution (minutes – hours)

  • Usually used to monitor meteorological conditions and severe storm development, including hurricanes, tornadoes, and floods

Geostationary Environmental Operational Satellites (GOES) America

  • U.S. geostationary weather satellites

  • Temporal resolution: 30 min – 3 hours

  • Spatial resolution: 1 km, 4 km, and 8 km

  • 5 bands:

    • Visible (0.55-0.75 mm)

    • Shortwave IR (3.80-4.00 mm)

    • Water Vapor (6.50-7.00 mm)

    • IR 1 (10.20-11.20 mm)

    • IR 2 (11.50-12.50 mm)



Polar-Orbiting Satellites America

  • In low altitude orbit (~700-800 km)

  • Orbit around North and South Poles

  • Earth rotates under satellite as it orbits, so each time satellite makes a pass over Earth, it observes a new area

  • Polar-orbiting satellites observe same area on Earth once per day (or less)

  • Low temporal resolution

  • Global coverage!

  • Used for a variety of applications, including air quality, land cover, water quality, and vegetation studies

NASA Air Quality Polar-Orbiting Satellites America

  • Terra

    • Launched in 1999

    • 10:30 AM local overpass

  • Aqua

    • Launched in 2002

    • 1:30 PM local overpass

  • Aura

    • Launched in 2004

    • 1:30 PM local overpass

The A-Train: Afternoon Overpass AmericaPolar-Orbiting Satellites

How do satellites make measurements
How Do Satellites Make Measurements? America

  • Satellites do not make directmeasurements of the Earth’s geophysical parameters.

  • Instead, satellites measure solar and/or terrestrial radiance (light) in a vertical column of the atmosphere.

  • Radiance data are converted into geophysical parameters using science-based algorithms.

Satellite remote sensing of earth challenges
Satellite Remote Sensing of Earth: Challenges America

  • Satellites are very expensive to build and launch.

  • No direct measurements – radiance (light) measurements must be converted to geophysical parameters, such as temperature or pollutant concentration.

  • Tradeoffs between spatial and temporal resolution.

    Advantages far outweigh the challenges!

Activity 1 satellite orbits
Activity 1: Satellite Orbits America

  • Participants should break into groups of 3-4.

  • Each participant will be given a worksheet on satellite orbits.

  • Participants should work with their group to answer the questions.

  • After the team analysis, we will come back together as a large group to discuss the questions.

  • Goal: become familiar with satellite terminology and characteristics.