Nowcasting Applications of Geostationary Satellite Hourly Surface PM2.5 Data
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Nowcasting Applications of Geostationary Satellite Hourly Surface PM2.5 Data

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  • Journal Title:
    Weather and Forecasting
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    The mass concentration of fine particulate matter (PM2.5; diameters less than 2.5 μm) estimated from geostationary satellite aerosol optical depth (AOD) data can supplement the network of ground monitors with high temporal (hourly) resolution. Estimates of PM2.5 over the United States were derived from NOAA’s operational geostationary satellites’ Advanced Baseline Imager (ABI) AOD data using a geographically weighted regression with hourly and daily temporal resolution. Validation versus ground observations shows a mean bias of −21.4% and −15.3% for hourly and daily PM2.5 estimates, respectively, for concentrations ranging from 0 to 1000 μg m−3. Because satellites only observe AOD in the daytime, the relation between observed daytime PM2.5 and daily mean PM2.5 was evaluated using ground measurements; PM2.5 estimated from ABI AODs were also examined to study this relationship. The ground measurements show that daytime mean PM2.5 has good correlation (r > 0.8) with daily mean PM2.5 in most areas of the United States, but with pronounced differences in the western United States due to temporal variations caused by wildfire smoke; the relation between the daytime and daily PM2.5 estimated from the ABI AODs has a similar pattern. While daily or daytime estimated PM2.5 provides exposure information in the context of the PM2.5 standard (>35 μg m−3), the hourly estimates of PM2.5 used in nowcasting show promise for alerts and warnings of harmful air quality. The geostationary satellite based PM2.5 estimates inform the public of harmful air quality 10 times more than standard ground observations (1.8 versus 0.17 million people per hour). Significance Statement Fine particulate matter (PM2.5; diameters less than 2.5 μm) are generated from smoke, dust, and emissions from industrial, transportation, and other sectors. They are harmful to human health and even lead to premature mortality. Data from geostationary satellites can help estimate surface PM2.5 exposure by filling in gaps that are not covered by ground monitors. With this information, people can plan their outdoor activities accordingly. This study shows that availability of hourly PM2.5 observations covering the entire continental United States is more informative to the public about harmful exposure to pollution. On average, 1.8 million people per hour can be informed using satellite data compared to 0.17 million people per hour based on ground observations alone.
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    Weather and Forecasting, 37(12), 2313-2329
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