A Bayesian ensemble approach to combine PM2.5 estimates from statistical models using satellite imagery and numerical model simulation.


Ambient fine particulate matter less than 2.5 um in aerodynamic diameter (PM2.5) has been linked to various adverse health outcomes. PM2.5 arises from both natural and anthropogenic sources, and PM2.5 concentrations can vary over space and time. However, the sparsity of existing air quality monitors greatly restricts the spatial-temporal coverage of PM2.5 measurements, potentially limiting the accuracy of PM2.5-related health studies. Various methods exist to address these limitations by supplementing air quality monitoring measurements with additional data. We develop a method to combine PM2.5 estimated from satellite-retrieved aerosol optical depth (AOD) and chemical transport model (CTM) simulations using statistical models. While most previous methods utilize AOD or CTM separately, we aim to leverage advantages offered by both data sources in terms of resolution and coverage using Bayesian ensemble averaging. Our approach differs from previous ensemble approaches in its ability to not only incorporate uncertainties in PM2.5 estimates from individual models but also to provide uncertainties for the resulting ensemble estimates. In an application of estimating daily PM2.5 in the Southeastern US, the ensemble approach outperforms previously developed spatial-temporal statistical models that use either AOD or bias-corrected CTM simulations in cross-validation (CV) analyses. More specifically, in spatially clustered CV experiments, the ensemble approach reduced the AOD-only and CTM-only model's root mean squared error (RMSE) by at least 13%. Similar improvements were seen in R2. The enhanced prediction performance that the ensemble technique provides at fine-scale spatial resolution, as well as the availability of prediction uncertainty, can be further used in health effect analyses of air pollution exposure.