BOEM Partners with NASA on Air Quality

Sub title
Study is first to test feasibility of using satellites to measure air quality on the Outer Continental Shelf in the Gulf of Mexico.

Under the Clean Air Act, BOEM has jurisdiction to monitor and enforce air quality requirements in federal waters in the Central and Western Gulf of Mexico. Most physical air quality monitors do not fare well long term when used in the marine environment – they can rust, corrode and become contaminated. Consequently, BOEM partnered with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) to test the feasibility of using satellites to measure air quality pollutants in federal waters in the Gulf of Mexico.

In May 2019, BOEM and NASA conducted a field study in the Gulf of Mexico as part of the Satellite Continental and Oceanic Atmospheric Pollution Experiment (SCOAPE). This study was the first offshore scientific experiment to test remote sensing data for air quality management in the Gulf. Using real time air quality monitors, BOEM scientists measured several pollutants, including total column nitrogen dioxide, in coastal Louisiana and at offshore platforms in shallow and deep waters.

Initial results indicate the satellite data collection of total column nitrogen dioxide is comparable to traditional air quality monitoring results. However, for this study satellites only pass through the test area twice daily, making them difficult to use for BOEM’s management purposes.

NASA hopes to launch the Tropospheric Emissions: Monitoring of Pollution (TEMPO) instrument in 2022/2023, which will provide hourly, high-resolution pollutant data across North America (including the Pacific, Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic regions). BOEM plans to continue testing the feasibility of using satellite data to help the bureau meet its offshore air quality management needs.

For more information:

BOEM’s study profile

SCOAPE Cruise video:

-- BOEM --

The Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) is responsible for America’s offshore energy and mineral resources. The bureau promotes energy independence, environmental protection and economic development through responsible, science-based management of energy and mineral resources on the U.S. Outer Continental Shelf.