Calibrating MODIS aerosol optical depth for predicting daily PM2.5 concentrations via statistical downscaling.


There has been a growing interest in the use of satellite-retrieved aerosol optical depth (AOD) to estimate ambient concentrations of PM2.5 (particulate matter <2.5 μm in aerodynamic diameter). With their broad spatial coverage, satellite data can increase the spatial-temporal availability of air quality data beyond ground monitoring measurements and potentially improve exposure assessment for population-based health studies. This paper describes a statistical downscaling approach that brings together (1) recent advances in PM2.5 land use regression models utilizing AOD and (2) statistical data fusion techniques for combining air quality data sets that have different spatial resolutions. Statistical downscaling assumes the associations between AOD and PM2.5 concentrations to be spatially and temporally dependent and offers two key advantages. First, it enables us to use gridded AOD data to predict PM2.5 concentrations at spatial point locations. Second, the unified hierarchical framework provides straightforward uncertainty quantification in the predicted PM2.5 concentrations. The proposed methodology is applied to a data set of daily AOD values in southeastern United States during the period 2003-2005. Via cross-validation experiments, our model had an out-of-sample prediction R(2) of 0.78 and a root mean-squared error (RMSE) of 3.61 μg/m(3) between observed and predicted daily PM2.5 concentrations. This corresponds to a 10% decrease in RMSE compared with the same land use regression model without AOD as a predictor. Prediction performances of spatial-temporal interpolations to locations and on days without monitoring PM2.5 measurements were also examined.

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