During this reporting period, the project participated in the United Nations Summer Academy on Sustainable Development that was held in Bonn, Germany during August 22-26, 2016. The project PI gave a presentation on the project results and conducted a session on "Fostering Experiential and Community-Based Learning in Sustainable Development Education." The session was attended by participants from Brazil, Afghanistan, Angola, Palestine, Senegal, Armenia, among others. The team also developed new collaborative ties with the OpenAQ (Open Air Quality, OpenAQ.org) project that collects, standardizes, visualize, and share air quality data across the world and are discussing possible ways to share results through this platform. Public sharing and archiving of air quality data from Africa and the Middle East are currently missing.
Analysis of aerosol data from the satellite sensors MODIS and MISR, and the ground-based AERONET stations continued for the purpose of identifying the microphysical properties that affect climate and human health. The following tasks were undertaken during the reporting period:Data Access and Manipulation
Monthly and seasonal averages of the single scattering albedo (SSA) and Angstrom exponent (AE) from MODIS over the entire country and three populated cities (Cairo, Alexandria and Asyut) were collected as well as aerosol extinction, absorption, volume size distribution, spectral phase function, spectral coarse phase function and effective aerosol radius (for fine and coarse particles). Map Generation
Generated daily maps of SSA from MODIS over the entire country. The purpose was to identify where absorptive and scattering aerosols dominates. The team found that this parameter is not produced regularly over the Nile Delta region (including Cairo and Alexandria), which is the most crucial region in terms of air pollution. They found that successful generation of this parameter from MODIS is better over arid areas. The parameter is produced regularly over the deserts of Egypt and, upon checking the literature, the team confirmed the possibility of absorptive aerosols of desert dust.Methods for Aerosol Type Identification
We used the aerosol optical depth (AOD) and Angstrom exponent (AE) from AERONET to identify three aerosol categories: desert dust, urban-industrial and biomass burning (still under test). Fractional contribution of fine mode aerosols to the total AOD is also used to identify the periods and the duration of this type. This is the type that has most serious impact on public health.
Aerosol type identification in terms of their absorptivity was conducted using the single scattering albedo from the two AERONET stations (in Cairo and El-Farafrah) as well as MODIS to study its spatial distribution over the entire country. Following established methods in the literature, work on using the spectral signature of AOD from AERONET and MISR has started with the goal to discriminate biomass burning and urban dust aerosols. A second idea under investigation is the use of the spectral variation of the single scattering albedo (or equivalently the absorption) to differentiate between aerosol types.
A notable challenge in using remote sensing to identify aerosol compositional types is the wide and overlapping ranges of any given key optical property (such as SSA and AE) between different types, with further dependence of shape and size. This renders identification of aerosols types only approximate. For this reason, the team plans to validate the findings about aerosol types using field data or existing databases in Egyptian environmental and meteorological authorities.Project WebpageBlue Skies Again videoBlue Skies Again video (Arabic)