SSAI helps turn satellite data into the visual models used to study
and predict cloud cover and other elements of the
Earth's atmosphere. Credit: NASA GSFC. From the air we breathe at the surface to the outer layers that approach space, SSAI studies substances that constitute the atmosphere, particularly the chemical makeup of each of its layers. We investigate aerosols, water vapor, clouds, and much more. We monitor ozone at the surface, where it is a pollutant, and in the stratosphere, where it is a crucial component of the Earth’s protective layer.
As dust from the Saharan Desert or industrial pollution travel across the globe, SSAI researchers use satellite data to monitor and track such movement. We determine what particles are in the air, the quantity of pollutants traveling, and where the pollutants are approaching. We also study pollution on the local level, analyzing emission levels and improving air quality forecasts.
When wildfires and volcanic eruptions send smoke and ash into the atmosphere, we help our customers to track the density and chemical components of the plumes. These data are often used by public health authorities and by aviation officials who determine conditions for flying. We look into how smoke and ash, particularly the particles that reach the stratosphere, affect our climate in the long term.
Much of the research we do with our customers isn’t used just for long-term modeling and research; we create data products that people can use today. Our cloud modeling support feeds into weather models, and we provide data products that benefit pilots when conditions could cause turbulence or wing icing. Our radiation data products feed into renewable energy databases, which help homeowners and businesses decide which alternative energy technologies are best for their area. SSAI scientists are passionate about learning more about Earth’s complex atmosphere, which is so basic to our existence.