Video: NASA Researcher discusses the air quality of three cities

Dr. Bryan N. Duncan is a deputy project scientist for the Aura Mission at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland.

He recently presented the story of air quality in three cities: Beijing, Los Angeles and Atlanta.

Instruments on NASA satellites monitor pollution around the world. One of these, The Ozone Monitoring Instrument (OMI) on the Aura satellite, has observed large amounts of sulfur dioxide, which is released when coal is burned, over Beijing.

Similarly, in the 1950s Los Angeles experienced high levels of another air pollutant—ozone. When in the higher atmosphere, ozone protects Earth from the sun's ultraviolet radiation. But closer to the ground ozone functions as a pollutant. Half a century ago in Los Angeles, levels were sometimes recorded at more than 500 ppbv. (The current National Ambient Air Quality Standard is 75 ppbv.) With the advent of catalytic converters in vehicles and other environmental policy efforts, these levels declined. But what worked to reduce ozone in Los Angeles didn't work to reduce high ozone levels in another city: Atlanta.

In this video, Duncan talks about the dynamic nature of , what causes ozone, , and nitrogen dioxide, and why reducing volatile organic carbon pollution worked to reduce ozone in Los Angeles, but not in Atlanta.

Credit: NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center

Explore further

NASA's ten-year-old Aura satellite tracks pollutants

Provided by NASA
Citation: Video: NASA Researcher discusses the air quality of three cities (2015, March 31) retrieved 15 October 2019 from
This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.

Feedback to editors

User comments

Mar 31, 2015

The economists and owners of Filthy Fuels call these costs "externalities" because they are dumped on others, not borne by the polluter.

That's how they get their Capitalist economic theories to work, and how business likes to have it all done.

Mar 31, 2015
Oh, boy, someone awarded me a one for the above comment. Let's hope they have to guts to debate the issue.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more