NASA Talk Focuses on Monitoring Air Quality From Space

Press Release From: Langley Research Center
Posted: Monday, January 9, 2012

We communicate, listen to music, watch TV, navigate and forecast the weather from satellites. Can we use this remote perspective to identify our planet's pollution hot spots?

On Tuesday, Jan. 10, at NASA's Langley Research Center here, atmospheric chemist James Crawford will present, "Improving the View of Air Quality from Space," at 2 p.m. in the Reid Conference Center. Last July, Crawford, NASA researchers and partners, two NASA aircraft and an extensive ground network, provided an unprecedented view of air pollution over the Baltimore-D.C. metropolitan area. This was the first of four field campaigns for a mission called DISCOVER-AQ (Deriving Information on Surface Conditions from Column and Vertically Resolved Observations Relevant to Air Quality).

Crawford will be available to answer questions from the media during a news briefing at 1:15 p.m. that day. Media who wish to do so should contact Chris Rink at 757-864-6786, or by e-mail at, by noon on the day of the talk for credentials and entry to the Center. That same evening at 7:30, Crawford will host a similar presentation for the general public at the Virginia Air & Space Center in downtown Hampton. This Sigma Series event is free and no reservations are required.

As the principal investigator, Crawford will provide an overview of current satellite capabilities and how they will be advanced by the DISCOVER-AQ project. Satellites can observe the total amount of atmospheric pollutants from the surface to the top of the atmosphere, but differentiating between pollution near the surface and miles above is a particularly difficult problem. Scientists, concerned about high levels of ozone and pollution, are more interested in what resides at the surface where populations and ecosystems are exposed to poor air quality.

Crawford, a researcher in NASA Langley's Science Directorate, has over 20 years of experience in conducting airborne field studies across the globe to understand atmospheric chemistry and the changes associated with human activity.

His awards include the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers as well as NASA's Exceptional Achievement and Outstanding Leadership medals. Crawford holds a Bachelor of Science degree in mathematics from the U.S. Military Academy and a doctorate in atmospheric chemistry from the Georgia Institute of Technology.

For more information about NASA Langley's Colloquium and Sigma Series Lectures, visit:

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