Office of Undergraduate Research

Using Satellite Imagery to Determine Ground-Level Aerosol Pollution on Cloudy-Days

Pollution aerosols have an adverse effect on human health and the environment. These tiny solid or liquid atmospheric particles are thus an important quantity to measure. In areas where ground-level measurements are unavailable, aerosols can be estimated by satellite measurements of optical depth, a measure of the atmosphere's transparency. Aerosols absorb, scatter and reflect sunlight, affecting the quantity of energy traveling from Earth to the satellite. Statistical models that utilize satellite optical depth measurements to estimate ground-level aerosol cannot be used during cloudy conditions, as the clouds obscure a portion of the atmosphere from the satellite. Brad will evaluate the potential to solve this problem using a statistical technique called empirical orthogonal function analysis. This method provides the means to simulate the unavailable optical depth measurements via a statistical combination of nearby measurements in non-cloudy areas.

Tasks and responsibilities:

Apply a statistical (empirical orthogonal functions analysis) model to simulate satellite-based optical depth measurements in areas that are obscured by cloud cover.