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Alston, EJ; Sokolik, IN; Doddridge, BG (2011). Investigation into the Use of Satellite Data in Aiding Characterization of Particulate Air Quality in the Atlanta, Georgia Metropolitan Area. JOURNAL OF THE AIR & WASTE MANAGEMENT ASSOCIATION, 61(2), 211-225.

Poor air quality episodes occur often in metropolitan Atlanta, GA. The primary focus of this research is to assess the capability of satellites as a tool in characterizing air quality in Atlanta. Results indicate that intracity PM2.5 (particulate matter <= 2.5 mu m in aerodynamic diameter) concentrations show similar patterns as other U.S. urban areas, with the highest concentrations occurring within the city. PM2.5 and MODIS (Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer) aerosol optical depth (AOD) have higher values in the summer than spring, yet MODIS AOD doubles in the summer unlike PM2.5. Most (80%) of the Ozone Monitoring Instrument aerosol index (AI) is below 0.5 with little differences between spring and summer. Using this value as a constraint of the carbonaceous aerosol signal in the urban area, aerosol transport events such as wildfire smoke associated with higher positive AI values can be identified. The results indicate that MODIS AOD is well correlated with PM2.5 on a yearly and seasonal basis with correlation coefficients as high as 0.8 for Terra and 0.7 for Aqua. A possible alternative view of the PM2.5 and AOD relationship is seen through the use of AOD thresholds. These probabilistic thresholds provide a means to describe the air quality index (AQI) through the use of multiyear AOD records for a specific area. The National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) are used to classify the AOD into different AQI codes and probabilistically determine thresholds of AOD that represent most of a specific AQI category. For example, 80% of cases of moderate AQI days have AOD values between 0.5 and 0.6. The development of AOD thresholds provides a useful tool for evaluating air quality from the use of satellites in regions where there are sparse ground-based measurements of PM2.5.



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