Air Quality

chimneys spewing smoke

Evaluation of air quality in the U.S. and worldwide is a major research area for SAGE. Because air pollution arises from complex interactions between climate, human emissions, land cover, and other factors, we use advanced models, measurements, and satellite observations to evaluate strategies for cleaner air. Current air quality work at SAGE is funded by NASA, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), and the UW Center for Freight Infrastructure, Research, and Education (CFIRE).


Ongoing Projects

Does Air Pollution Impact Housing Prices? - In a study of the effects of air pollution regulations (focused on PM10), SAGE Affiliate Corbett Grainger finds that the 1990 Clean Air Act Amendments led to a significant increase in rental rates, and an impact twice as large for owner-occupied housing values. Although a small part of this difference can be explained by income differences between renters and homeowners; Prof. Grainger finds that only about half of the increase in value of cleaner air is passed on to renters in the form of higher rents. Read the report.

readar maps

NASA Air Quality Applied Science Team (AQAST) - Holloway is a member of NASA AQAST, a five-year initiative launched in 2011 to advance atmospheric research linking satellite data with air quality management needs. Short-term projects include an analysis of chemical and meteorological processes over the Great Lakes affecting coastal non-attainment, and building a library of resources to support broader use of OMI NO2 data from the Aura satellite. WHIPS (the Wisconsin Horizontal Interpolation Program for Satellites) is an open-source program designed to make satellite-derived air quality data more usable. WHIPS interpolates level 2 satellite retrievals onto a user-defined fixed grid, in effect creating custom-gridded level 3 satellite product. WHIPS was developed by Jacob Oberman, Erica Scotty, Keith Maki and Tracey Holloway, with funding from AQAST and the Wisconsin Space Grant Consortium Undergraduate Award.

Impacts of Climate Change on Air Pollution and Health - Patz, Holloway, and Meier were recently awarded a 2-year grant from the National Institutes of Health to quantify the health impacts of climate-related air pollution increases, especially with respect to increased electricity demand. Dr. Monica Harkey and Ph.D. student Vijay Limaye are working on this 2011-2013 project.

Understanding Air Quality Impacts of Energy Choices - A collection of intersecting projects addressing how energy use trade-offs will affect air quality, especially in the Eastern U.S. Upper Midwest. An NREL-funded project (2011) led by Holloway, working with Ph.D. student Phillip Duran, examines the potential benefits of broader solar energy deployment in urban areas. Holloway, Meier, and Ph.D. student Erica Bickford work together with funding from UW CFIRE evaluate the air quality impacts of biodiesel for trucking (paper in review), modal shifts from truck to rail (paper in preparation), and broader use of natural gas in trucks (evaluation underway).

Regional Impacts of Global Air Pollution - Holloway serves a co-author for the UN Task Force on Hemispheric Transport of Air Pollution, and advances research on the interaction between regional and global pollution transport processes.

Triple-Win Biking Project - Patz and Ph.D. student Maggie Grabow evaluate health/fitness, air quality, and climate benefits associated with increased bicycle use in urban areas (paper in press).