Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

NASA-enhanced Dust Storm Predictions To Aid Health Community

Date:
November 3, 2008
Source:
NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center
Summary:
NASA satellite data can improve forecasts of dust storms in the American Southwest in ways that can benefit public health managers.

NASA satellite data can improve forecasts of dust storms in the American Southwest in ways that can benefit public health managers. Scientists announced the finding as a five-year NASA-funded project nears its conclusion.

Led by investigators Stanley Morain of the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque, and William Sprigg of the University of Arizona in Tucson, scientists evaluated the influence of space-based observations on predictions of dust storms. Using NASA satellite data, forecasters could more accurately predict the timing of two out of three dust events.

NASA's Public Health Applications in Remote Sensing project, or PHAiRS, released a report on the study this month. Such forecasting capability is the first step toward a reporting system that health officials could use to warn at-risk populations of health threats and respond quickly to dust-related epidemics.

"The program has been successful in its work to improve dust storms predictions, which has important implications for air quality and respiratory distress warnings," said John Haynes, Public Health Applications program manager at NASA Headquarters in Washington.

Dust and the pathogens it carries have been blamed for exacerbating some cardiovascular and respiratory diseases, including asthma. Dust also obscures visibility on roads, which can contribute to closures and traffic accidents.

NASA launched PHAiRS in 2004 to identify how satellites could help modeling and forecasting of dust storms and to enhance a computer-based system that health managers can use to report and respond to dust-related health symptoms.

The key to better dust forecasts is to represent accurately the features that influence the behavior of dust: land topography, the proportion of land to water, and surface roughness.

"Dust modeling always has relied on surface characteristics that we knew were wrong," Sprigg said.

For instance, information in previous models about a region's features was patched together from old maps and topographic surveys, which do not accurately represent seasonal or cyclical changes in vegetation and related surface features.

Through PHAiRS, up-to-date measurements of Earth's surface features -- collected from instruments on NASA's Terra and Aqua satellites -- provided the critical details needed to enhance an existing dust model. Observations of Earth from space offer more complete information, filling in the gaps between the locations of surface measurements and providing up-to-date snapshots of changing surface features.

The team began with an existing model Slobodan Nickovic of the World Meteorological Organization in Geneva developed that describes how dust is lifted off the ground and carried in the atmosphere. Researchers coupled this model with an operational weather forecast model the U.S. National Weather Service created. The team adapted the model to accommodate dust storms in the U.S. Southwest and then introduced the new satellite-derived measurements.

After using the new model to make hourly dust forecasts for California, Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas during dust events, the team compared their results to real-world observations. They found that the NASA data improved the model estimates of wind speed, direction, near-surface temperature, and the location and amount of dust lifted off the ground. Statistics for the model's performance show that between January and April 2007, the timing of two out of three dust storms in Phoenix could be forecasted precisely.

Already, public health professionals have been enlisted to work with the PHAiRS team to assess the model's real-world utility. The team is collaborating with physicians, public health experts and community leaders in Lubbock, Texas, to integrate the NASA dust storm predictions into a computer-based decision-support system called the Syndrome Reporting Information System, which maps reported cases of respiratory distress. The satellite-enhanced system would allow health and environmental managers to "see" the next 48 hours of dust concentrations for their areas and track the number of respiratory distress situations that result.

Ultimately, the system could allow health officials to issue early warnings to populations at risk for dust-related health complications. Preliminary feedback from public health end-users about the enhanced system's performance is expected in January 2009.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center. "NASA-enhanced Dust Storm Predictions To Aid Health Community." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 3 November 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/10/081028184822.htm>.
NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center. (2008, November 3). NASA-enhanced Dust Storm Predictions To Aid Health Community. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 29, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/10/081028184822.htm
NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center. "NASA-enhanced Dust Storm Predictions To Aid Health Community." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/10/081028184822.htm (accessed September 29, 2014).

Share This



More Earth & Climate News

Monday, September 29, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Raw: Balloon Descends to Bottom of Croatian Cave

Raw: Balloon Descends to Bottom of Croatian Cave

AP (Sep. 29, 2014) An Austrian balloon pilot has succeeded in taking a balloon deep underground, a feat which he believes is a world first. (Sept. 29) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Bodies Recovered from Japan Volcano Eruption

Bodies Recovered from Japan Volcano Eruption

AP (Sep. 29, 2014) Rescue crews finished recovering the remaining 27 bodies from atop Japan's Mount Ontake Monday. At least 31 people were killed Saturday in the mountain's first fatal volcanic event in modern history. (Sept. 29) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Japan's Mount Ontake Erupts

Raw: Japan's Mount Ontake Erupts

AP (Sep. 27, 2014) A volcano erupted in central Japan on Saturday, sending a large plume of ash high into the sky and prompting a warning to climbers and others to avoid the area. (Sept. 27) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
California University Designs Sustainable Winery

California University Designs Sustainable Winery

Reuters - US Online Video (Sep. 27, 2014) Amid California's worst drought in decades, scientists at UC Davis design a sustainable winery that includes a water recycling system. Vanessa Johnston reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins