BOEM is working with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Atmospheric Chemistry and Dynamics Laboratory at Goddard Space Flight Center to measure and monitor offshore sea level concentrations of pollutants that are used in National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) Environmental Assessments (EAs) and Environmental Impact Statements (EISs). The Clean Air Act (CAA) requires the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to set the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) for atmospheric pollutants; EPA has set standards for six criteria pollutants: carbon monoxide (CO), lead (Pb), nitrogen dioxide (NO2), ozone (O3), particulate matter (PM2.5 and PM10), and sulfur dioxide (SO2). BOEM is required to ensure that Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) oil and gas exploration, development, and production activities are in compliance with the NAAQS.
This study provides validation for satellite-based measures of pollutants, thereby improving the operational satellite NO2 data product, including addressing several issues to improve the use of these data over open water. The sea-level-based NO2 product will also be used to (1) estimate NO2 concentrations around offshore facilities, (2) determine the contribution of onshore emissions (such as specific refineries, power plants, and cities) to offshore air quality and vice versa by analyzing wind flow patterns and daily NO2 data, and (3) derive long-term trends over the last decade.
This study uses research cruises in the Gulf of Mexico equipped with NASA equipment to measure near sea level the same constituents observed by satellite (see image). Websites at http://www.terpconnect.umd.edu/~dewk13/scoapeindex.html and https://www-air.larc.nasa.gov/missions/scoape/index.html are available to share this project's goals, progress, and data.
Nader Abuhassan (NASA), Natasha Dacic (NASA), V.J. Maisonet-Montanez (BOEM), Ryan Stauffer (NASA), and Anne Thompson (NASA Chief Scientist) on deck prepping for a weather balloon launch from the ship. The balloon has a sensor called an OzoneSonde that can measure ozone. They are also measuring many other air pollutants and carbon gases at sea level to trace the source for the pollution observed. (Credit: Ryan Stauffer [NASA])