Colloquium: January 10, 2012

Improving the View of Air Quality from Space

Dr. James Crawford

TUESDAY: January 10, 2012 2:00 P.M. in the H.J.E. Reid Auditorium.


Last July, NASA researchers and partners provided an unprecedented view of air pollution over the Baltimore-DC metropolitan area. This was the first of four field campaigns for a mission called DISCOVER-AQ. The mission’s strategy is articulated by its acronym, Deriving Information on Surface Conditions from Column and Vertically Resolved Observations Relevant to Air Quality. Satellite observations of atmospheric pollutants generally provide “column” amounts, meaning that they can diagnose the total abundance of a constituent from the surface to the top of the atmosphere. Differentiating between pollution near the surface and aloft is a particularly difficult problem for satellites, and regulators concerned about high levels of ozone and particulate matter are interested in what resides at the surface where populations and ecosystems are exposed to poor air quality. With two NASA aircraft and an extensive ground network, DISCOVER-AQ operated as a complex observing system, providing multiple perspectives on the factors that control air quality and influence our ability to monitor pollution events from space. Principal Investigator, Jim Crawford will provide an overview of current satellite capabilities and how they will be advanced by the DISCOVER-AQ project.


James CrawfordDr. Crawford is an atmospheric chemist in the Science Directorate at NASA Langley Research Center. He has over 20 years of experience in conducting airborne field studies across the globe to understand atmospheric composition and chemistry and the perturbations associated with human activity. Improving the application of satellite observations to study the lower atmosphere is an important aspect of his work. Dr. Crawford’s awards include the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers as well as NASA’s Exceptional Achievement and Outstanding Leadership medals. Dr. Crawford holds a B.S. degree in Mathematics from the United States Military Academy at West Point and a Ph.D. in Atmospheric Chemistry from the Georgia Institute of Technology.