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NASA Using Chesapeake Bay Pollution Research for Satellites

NASA uses Earth-observing satellites to monitor conditions in Chesapeake Bay over time. (Pixabay)
NASA uses Earth-observing satellites to monitor conditions in Chesapeake Bay over time. (Pixabay)
July 26, 2018

BALTIMORE — Researchers have conducted extensive studies on air pollution and smog on land, but looking at air pollution over water and at a vertical level presents challenges. That's why this summer, researchers chose Hart-Miller Island in Chesapeake Bay as a firm place to study air pollution on and above the coast.

In addition to determining what happens to emissions from power plants, cars and other pollutants, the studies also will have an expanded use, according to John Sullivan, a research scientist at NASA's Goddard Space and Light Center.

"We're also moving into a regime here in NASA where we'll be launching an air-quality satellite that will be able to provide much more information spatially and temporally,” Sullivan said.

Sullivan said the results from the data gathered will be useful for satellite modeling and in other ways, as it has been difficult for technology to explore pollution gradients on the coast.

The primary locations for the study, which ran from June to early July, were Hart-Miller Island and a lab on the University of Maryland-Baltimore County campus, a heavily populated area. Pollution originates in these populated areas, and Maryland officials have blamed upwind states for some of the smog that clouds the Baltimore and Washington regions.

Sullivan said when the contaminants reach the water, they can recirculate and cause more damage.

"When they leave Baltimore, they go over the water, but they're light enough that in certain situations, they're actually brought back over land."

Now that the study at the bay is complete, Sullivan said the group will look to conduct another full observation next year in an area near Long Island Sound.

Trimmel Gomes, Public News Service - MD