Randall Martin, the Raymond R. Tucker Distinguished Professor in the McKelvey School of Engineering, and his team will analyze fine particulate matter data acquired from satellites and design new algorithms with a three-year, $595,000 grant from NASA.

Fine particulate matter, also known as PM2.5, is even smaller than red blood cells and can get embedded in the lungs or into the bloodstream, posing a risk to human health. However, ground-based monitoring of these particles is not widespread, and researchers rely on data that comes from satellites placed around the world. Martin and members of his lab make estimates that are generated by aerosol optical depth retrieved from satellite sensors, such as NASA’s Terra satellite, together with simulations of the aerosol optical depth to PM2.5 relationship from the GEOS-Chem model, which simulates atmospheric composition.

With the new funding, Martin and his team will develop new algorithms to integrate the aerosol data from multiple NASA and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) satellite sensors to differentiate long-term changes in PM2.5, as well as to evaluate and improve the interpretation of this data and study the factors controlling the short-term variation and long-term trends in satellite-derived PM2.5. This work will ultimately help in air quality management.

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