October 28, 2008

Study: NASA Dust Storm Predictions Helpful

A five-year U.S. space agency study shows NASA satellite data can improve dust storm forecasts in the U.S. Southwest to benefit public health managers.

Led by investigators Stanley Morain of the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque, and William Sprigg of the University of Arizona in Tucson, scientists evaluated the influence of space-based observations on predictions of dust storms. Using National Aeronautics and Space Administration satellite data, the study found forecasters could more accurately predict the timing of two of three dust events.

NASA said such forecasting capability is the first step toward a reporting system that health officials could use to warn at-risk populations of health threats and respond quickly to dust-related epidemics.