National Weather Service United States Department of Commerce

National Weather Service Product Means Better Air Quality Warnings for the Northeastern U.S.

New experimental air quality forecast guidance produced by NOAA's National Weather Service (NWS) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will provide critical, high resolution data that will enable state and local agencies to issue more accurate and geographically specific air quality warnings to the public. NOAA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, is an agency of the U.S. Department of Commerce.

The new Air Quality Forecast (AQF) capability provides experimental hour-by-hour ozone forecasts, for the Northeastern U.S., through midnight of the following day, at 12 km mesh resolution; much more geographically specific than currently possible with metro area-wide alerts issued for participating communities. This information will be posted on NOAA and EPA data servers, available to the public and state and local air quality forecasters. NOAA will carry out several months of real time testing and evaluation before adding it to NWS operational products.

The key to the AQF program is the partnership of NOAA and EPA scientists, especially those at NCEP, ARL, and EPA/ORD, to improve air quality prediction science and advance computer modeling technology, enabling NOAA's National Weather Service to simulate atmospheric conditions using data provided by EPA. Twice daily, early in the morning and early afternoon, NCEP's operational supercomputers will produce ground-level ozone forecasts and post them on NWS and EPA data servers.

The ozone forecast guidance represents the first step in an improved national AQF capability that will continue to grow over the next decade. Phase one provides hourly updated ozone forecast information throughout the northeastern United States beginning in September 2004. Coverage will expand to the entire nation within five years. Once ozone forecasts are available throughout the U.S., the capability will be extended to include particulate matter forecasts, then cover longer time periods (day two and beyond) and eventually, additional pollutants.

May 27, 2004