Basic Research on the Vertical Distribution of Air Quality Constituents in the Earth’s Atmosphere

Short Description

Air pollution poses a risk to human health and the environment. Science is working towards large-scale monitoring and forecasting of regional and global air quality using satellite imagery. Satellite remote sensing data, however, typically only provide atmospheric column-integrated information on air quality constituents.

To accurately derive air quality parameters in the planetary boundary layer, it is thus essential to understand the vertical distribution of air pollutants in the atmosphere and the chemical, physical and meteorological processes driving it.

NASA's DISCOVER-AQ (Deriving Information on Surface Conditions from Column and Vertically Resolved Observations Relevant to Air Quality) project performs basic research on the vertical distribution of trace gases and aerosols over selected areas in the U.S. affected by poor air quality.

The objective of this proposal is to enable the participation of an Austrian junior researcher in two of NASA's upcoming DISCOVER-AQ measurement campaigns. Airborne measurements of organic constituents shall be performed with a new time-of-flight mass spectrometer recently developed within the Austrian Space Applications Programme (ASAP 8).

The project is anticipated to generate a large and unique set of atmospheric in-situ data on organic air quality constituents and fundamental insights into their composition and distribution in the Earth's atmosphere.

The results of the research will be summarized in a scientific article. The data will be made freely available to the scientific community in an electronic archive. This is a basic research project (TRL 1) which is per definition not directed towards an immediate economic outcome.

Project Partners


University of Innsbruck

Contact Address

University of Innsbruck
Innrain 52
A-6020 Innsbruck