Thailand and NASA partnering on air quality data

From outer space to city streets, Thailand and the United States are working together to battle air pollution and haze. Thanks to a partnership with SERVIR, a joint initiative of NASA and USAID (U.S. Agency for International Development), the Kingdom is receiving satellite data for strategic decision-making on the ground.

“Through SERVIR, we are proud to support the Royal Thai Government’s Pollution Control Department in using satellite observations and model outputs to monitor and forecast air quality in Thailand,” said Lawrence Friedl, Director of NASA’s Applied Sciences Program. “Partnerships and collaboration are how we create greater on-the-ground impacts that benefit lives on Earth.”

Thailand and other parts of Southeast Asia are locked in a fight against seasonal haze. The haze can be deadly and damages human and animal health. This problem has worsened during the past two decades.

The pollution is primarily the result of farmers burning fields to clear land and seasonal weather conditions that trap the dust particles and prevent winds from clearing them out. In Thailand, this generally occurs annually from December through February. It happens during other months in different areas across Southeast Asia.

NASA said that SERVIR has a network of regional hubs. Through that, it supplies publicly available satellite imagery, geospatial data, and analysis tools to local decision-makers to help solve environmental challenges. The SERVIR-Mekong hub, located at the Asian Disaster Preparedness Center in Bangkok, serves countries in the Mekong River Basin.

The U.S. space agency said that to improve air pollution monitoring in Thailand and the Lower Mekong River region, SERVIR-Mekong brought together experts in air quality measurement, technology design, atmospheric modeling, and civic engagement.

The experts include the Royal Thai Government’s Pollution Control Department and Geo-Informatics and Space Technology Development Agency – Thailand’s space agency. Together, they developed a web-based platform for tracking and forecasting air quality in the region.

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