Providing Timely Public Access to Daily Air Quality Information about Birmingham, AL and Its Regional Environment

EPA Grant Number: R828583
Title: Providing Timely Public Access to Daily Air Quality Information about Birmingham, AL and Its Regional Environment
Investigators: Bell, Sam , Dillard, Randy , Gillani, Noor V. , Howard, Christopher , McHenry, John , Norris, W. B.
Institution: Jefferson County Department of Health, AL , Jefferson County Department of Health , North Carolina Supercomputing Center , University of Alabama in Huntsville
Current Institution: Jefferson County Department of Health, AL , North Carolina Supercomputing Center , University of Alabama in Huntsville
EPA Project Officer: Hiscock, Michael
Project Period: January 1, 2001 through December 31, 2002 (Extended to December 31, 2003)
Project Amount: $299,989
RFA: Environmental Monitoring for Public Access and Community Tracking (EMPACT) (2000) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Water , Air , Ecological Indicators/Assessment/Restoration


Monitoring and protection of the local air quality are the responsibility of the Jefferson County Department of Health (JCDH) and the Alabama Department of Environmental Management (ADEM). JCDH and its partners in this proposal - ADEM, UAH, and MCNC-NCSC - are proposing to develop and implement a greatly improved and sustainable program of local air quality monitoring and timely and effective public access to useful information about metro Birmingham (BHM) as well as regional (southeastern and eastern US) air quality and related meteorology. The public outreach will also include a program for the promotion of public awareness and education about air quality and related health effects.

In the proposed program, the air quality monitoring and public outreach activities and focus will be expanded in several major ways, each constituting a significant innovation of ways in which local agencies and communities encounter air quality in terms of:

  1. Pertinent air quality variables that are interpreted, from only ozone to ozone and PM2.5;

  2. Spatial-temporal scales that are addressed, from local/2D/daily to local+regional (including local-regional exchanges), 3D and multi-days;

  3. External data products that are used, from a few local forecast met variables only to eastern-US ozone (EPA), visibility (NWS), and satellite visible imagery (NASA), as well as results of large-scale met model runs with assimilation of observations;

  4. Forecasting approaches that are used, from local statistical modeling only, using yesterday's local observations, to comprehensive urban-regional scale Eulerian model forecasting (meteorology and chemistry), as well as statistical forecasting using yesterday's observed concentrations at appropriate upwind locations; and

  5. Data products that are generated, from the local monitoring data and ozone alerts to the following minimum additional graphical products - local and regional contour maps of ozone and fine particle surrogates (e.g., visibility, sulfate) based on both observations and forecasting, weather maps, satellite maps of regional haze, and airmass trajectory maps.


The most active seasons of the Project will be during the three summer months each year when daily forecast model runs and daily website updates will occur. The principal tasks of the project will include the following:
  1. Continuation of the state and local monitoring program by JCDH/ADEM, with at least 10 local monitoring sites, including 9 for ozone and 8 for PM2.5; addition of 4 new continuous PM2.5 monitors to be installed at upwind/downwind sites to interpret imported impacts during local episodes.

  2. Establishment of a Project Server at UAH, configured as an Internet II gateway, and as the nerve center of the central data management facility of the project; design/implementation of Information Management Plan.

  3. Downloading at UAH (during the summer seasons) of regional (eastern US) data of ozone (AIRNOW), of surface visibility from NOAA's Automated Surface Observations System (ASOS) database, and of daily weather maps (website) and GOES visible imagery from NASA; production by UAH of daily regional ozone and visibility and/or sulfate contour maps, and daily local (BHM) ozone maps during the summer seasons.

  4. Twice daily (00Z and 12Z cycles) implementation of southeastern US (lower resolution) and local (higher resolution) scale runs of MCNC's Real-time Ozone Forecast System (RTOFS) of Eulerian modeling, including MM5 for met, SMOKE for emissions, and MAQSIP for chemistry, to generate regional and local forecast maps of ozone for the next two days, during the summer seasons.

  5. Daily (during the summer season) calculation at UAH of 48-h back trajectories from BHM (based on met forecast wind fields) to estimate yesterday's location of the airmass expected to contribute to the forecasted peak ozone in BHM tomorrow, and extraction of the corresponding observed ozone concentration at the upwind site.

  6. Calculation (by ADEM) of the local peak ozone forecast for tomorrow based on statistical modeling and two alternate values of yesterday's peak ozone --- local, and at the upwind location in the transported airmass; ADEM and JCDH to issue alerts, as necessary, based on forecast data from Eulerian/statistical forecast models.

  7. Design and creation of the website and other outreach channels, and related PR activity.

  8. Periodic updating of information on the website. During the summer seasons, this will occur automatically at multiple times daily, as observation-based and model-forecast-based graphical products become available.
  9. Preparation for sustainability and transferability of the Project. This will include two subtasks: for continuation in AL, MCNC will assist UAH in technology transfer of the Eulerian forecast modeling capability for future local implementation; for replication outside AL, a detailed documentation of the Process evolved over the two years will be prepared.

Expected Results:

This proposal places the highest emphasis on the EMPACT objectives of (a) promoting timely and effective public access to useful daily environmental information and (b) creation and nationwide sharing of tools and processes developed locally, but designed for broader application.

Publications and Presentations:

Publications have been submitted on this project: View all 2 publications for this project

Supplemental Keywords:

ambient air quality; ozone; PM2.5; PM10; SO2; NOx; CO; AQI; air quality index; AIRNOW; meteorology, chemistry; monitoring, modeling; Birmingham, SE USA., RFA, Scientific Discipline, Air, Geographic Area, Ecosystem Protection/Environmental Exposure & Risk, air toxics, Health Risk Assessment, State, Monitoring/Modeling, Environmental Monitoring, tropospheric ozone, Atmospheric Sciences, Ecology and Ecosystems, ambient air quality, monitoring, particulate matter, EMPACT, meteorology, particulate, stratospheric ozone, ozone , regional monitoring program , air quality models, ozone, Alabama (AL), modeling, public reporting, predictive model, community outreach, ecosystem health, public access, airmass trajectory maps, statistical forecast model, air quality

Progress and Final Reports:

  • 2001 Progress Report
  • 2002
  • Final Report