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UAH staff who played a role in the development of the app are, from left to right: Pawan Gupta, Amanda Markert and Githika Tondapu. Middle Row – Biplov Bhantari and Dr. Robert Griffin. Top row – Tim Mayer and Andrea Nicolau.

Michel Mercier | UAH

Thailand to receive help to mitigate air pollution through a new satellite data application co-developed by the University of Alabama at Huntsville (UAH), which is part of the University of Alabama system .

Air pollution in Thailand becomes a problem when low temperatures and calm winds during the dry season of the Asian monsoon, along with air pollution from forest fires and agricultural burns, create a cross-border problem. in the Lower Mekong Delta.

The new application, called SERVIR-Explorer of Mekong Air Quality, enables large-scale monitoring of air quality in Thailand using NASA satellite Earth observations and modeled data. The new application will enable faster mitigation actions and improvements in air quality. Current Thai efforts rely heavily on ground surveillance, which has limited spatial coverage, resulting in information gaps.

It was developed in cooperation by entities such as the UAH Earth System Science Center (ESSC) and the NASA SERVIR Science Coordination Office located in the National Space Science Technology Center in the Robert “Bud” Cramer Research Hall of the ‘UAH. They have worked closely on the scientific development of the app with the Space Research Association of Universities (USRA), including UAH alumnus Dr. Pawan Gupta; Nasa; and the Asian Disaster Preparedness Center (ADPC).

The app was co-developed with the Royal Thai Government’s Pollution Control Department (RTGPCD) and the Geoinformatics and Space Technology Development Agency (GISTDA), which is the Thai equivalent of the NASA.

SERVIR works with regional partners, called hubs, around the world to build capacities to use satellite Earth observations and geospatial technologies to address environmental challenges.

“In April 2019, SERVE-Mekong initiated a collaboration with the RTGPCD to improve the monitoring and forecasting of air quality in Thailand ”, says Amanda Markert, researcher at ESSC and responsible for the regional scientific coordination NASA / SERVIR-Mekong who manages the activities SERVE-Mekong from the UAH / NASA side, including work air quality.

“Through this effort, the SERVIR-Mekong team has partnered with RTGPCD to take advantage of global forecast models and satellite observations to more effectively monitor and forecast air quality in Thailand. “

The Air Quality Explorer tool uses NASA’s global aerosol forecasts from the Goddard Earth Observing System (GEOS). GEOS assimilates observations of the Earth from several satellites.

“The Air Quality Explorer uses outputs from GEOS and calibrates itself against local ground measurements in Thailand using advanced machine learning technique to retrieve air quality forecasts. air corrected and biased 72 hours in advance, ”says Dr. Gupta. “The app has been added to the homepage of the RTGPCD website and will be used to monitor, advise and take action more comprehensively to mitigate air quality in the country.”

The RGTPCD is mandated to monitor and issue advisories on air quality in Thailand. The new app builds on existing efforts. Air quality forecasts and satellite observations will be used to provide advice and take the necessary mitigation measures.

“We have entered the world of technology. We view and understand the world from space through satellite technology,” said Athapol Charoenshunsa, CEO of RTGPCD. “Not only the past and the present, we will also tell everyone in the future to prepare properly and effectively for environmental pollution.”

UAH supported the coordination of the new application, scientific development, consultations with RTGPCD and outreach activities. The principal investigator of the UAH SERVIR project is Dr Robert Griffin.

In addition to Markert, who coordinated scientific, capacity-building and awareness-raising activities, and supported the development of training materials, the UAH SERVIR-Mekong team included Dr. Gupta and Githika Tondapu from USRA, who led the scientific development and applications; Andrea Nicolau, SERVIR-Mekong Regional Scientific Associate, and Tim Mayer, Head of SERVIR-Hindu-Kush Himalaya Regional Scientific Coordination, both of whom supported the development and coordination of applications; and Biplov Bhandari, SERVIR-Mékong graduate research assistant.

In addition to application development, the UAH SERVIR-Mekong team supported training and awareness efforts for young people. Dr Gupta led two training sessions on remote sensing of air quality. The first was for ADPC in July 2019. The second was in August 2020 for RTGCD and GISTDA. The training was supported by NASA Applied Remote Sensing Training and the Committee of Earth Observation Satellites.

In February 2020, SERVIR-Mekong, RTGPCD, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Department of State’s Southeast Asia Young Leaders Initiative hosted Smogathon Thailand 2020, to which Markert presented the work of NASA on air quality. The event brought together young professionals, students and technical experts to fight air pollution using satellite data.

A joint partnership between USAID and NASA, SERVIR works with organizations around the world to use space observations to inform public policy, adapt to the impacts of global change, and better plan for a sustainable future.

Led by the ADPC, SERVIR-Mekong has been working since 2015 in partnership with leading regional organizations in the five Lower Mekong countries of Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Thailand to exploit the observations of the Land in order to meet regional challenges. At UAH, ESS staff support these SERVIR hubs.

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