The New Model: Community Multi-Scale Air Quality (CMAQ)

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Air modeling is an important science for predicting the impact of air quality changes. There are numerous conservative models available to fit many different circumstances. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has just released a new version of its Community Multi-scale Air Quality model (CMAQ) that uses up-to-the minute meteorology and air chemistry data to determine how weather conditions affect pollution, and how pollution can affect and change weather. Version 5.0 of CMAQ allows scientists to analyze air quality at smaller, finer-resolution settings for individual towns and cities, and model air quality for the entire northern hemisphere. Currently, scientists use CMAQ to estimate air quality levels at the regional and national scales.

CMAQ is an air quality model and software suite designed to model multiple pollutants at multiple scales. CMAQ allows regulatory agencies and state governments to evaluate the impact of air quality management decisions, and gives scientists the ability to probe, simulate, and understand chemical and physical interactions in the atmosphere.

“The ability to apply the CMAQ model to larger scales will allow scientists to better understand the ways that air pollution moves around the globe, and provide much-needed information for decision makers in protecting public health,” said Dr. Paul Anastas, Assistant Administrator for EPA’s Office of Research and Development. “The model represents collaborative work among scientists in the fields of engineering, chemistry, mathematics, computer science, atmospheric science, and meteorology.”

Air quality has a direct impact on people’s health. EPA research has shown that air contaminated with common pollutants like ozone, acidic gases, and toxic components of particulate matter can aggravate asthma symptoms and put stress on cardiovascular systems. CMAQ 5.0 allows scientists to study air pollution at the local level and much larger scales. Version 5.0 has the capability to use data from other air quality models. This gives the system more flexibility to address new and increasingly complex air pollution issues, and incorporate input from a worldwide community of CMAQ users.

Earlier versions of CMAQ have been used for more than a decade by EPA and states for air quality management. CMAQ uses meteorology and emissions data to evaluate air pollution trends and distribution. The system models multiple air pollutants, which include ozone, particulate matter, and air toxics to help air quality regulators determine the best air quality management scenarios for their communities, regions, and states. Also, the National Weather Service uses CMAQ to produce daily U.S. forecasts for ozone air quality.

Article by Andy Soos, appearing courtesy ENN.

photo: http://en.citizendium.org/wiki/File:Industrial_air_pollution_plume.jpg

About Author

Walter’s contributions to CleanTechies over the past 4 years have been instrumental in growing the publications social media channels via his ongoing editorial and data driven strategies. He is the founder and managing director of Sunflower Tax, a renewable energy tax and finance consultancy based in San Diego, California. Active in the San Diego clean technology community, participating in events sponsored by CleanTech San Diego, EcoTopics, and Cleantech Open San Diego, Walter has also been a presenter at numerous California Center for Sustainability (CCSE) programs. He currently serves as an adjunct professor at the University of San Diego School of Law where he teaches a course on energy taxation and policy.

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