Gardening for Ozone Air Quality (2008)

Gardening for Ozone Air Quality (2008)

from the Library of Congress in Washington DC good morning i'm stephanie marcus from the science technology and business division here in the library it is a pleasure to welcome you today to our program the lecture today is part of a series of programs about cutting-edge science presented through a partnership with our division in the library and the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center upcoming programs in May and June in this special series will include avoiding the fate of the Mayans and another on Earth's water cycle and a changing climate so please watch for news of these upcoming programs on the library's web sites today as a gardening program but it's unlike any other gardening program you've probably ever attended we're gonna be learning about gardening to monitor ozone levels some of the country's worst pollution by ozone occurs in suburbs with amounts varying from one neighborhood to another so that the government ozone monitoring stations can't cover all of these areas so gardeners and others who are curious about ozone levels where they live or work and are willing to make careful observations over time can become involved in ozone monitoring some common and easily grown plants show over exposure to ozone by characteristic tiny evenly spaced spots or stippling on the upper sides of their leaves scientists and educators at NASA Langley Research Center collaborated with plant pathologists in the u.s. National Park Service to develop a protocol for citizen scientists and students to monitor ozone air quality by using an inexpensive handheld instrument which I didn't pronounce because I'll let you do that and ozone sensitive plants our speakers today will tell us what NASA's aura satellite is showing scientists about air quality on the global and regional scales they'll explain the ozone in general and all that's involved in ozone monitoring and how gardeners can link to others engaged in ozone monitoring we have with us today and Douglas and Jeanette Allen dr. Douglass whose doctorate is in physics is an atmospheric scientist who specializes in stratospheric chemistry and transport and you can interject any time if I say something wrong her research cuts across the worlds of biology chemistry physics and math as she works to create accurate global computer models of the Earth's atmosphere she has worked for NASA since the early 80s and has been the deputy project scientist for both the upper atmospheric research satellite and the Earth observing system aura in 2002 she shared the William T pakora award for understanding the earth through remote sensing in Jeanette Allen our other speaker is a senior education specialist for Earth observing satellite missions with science systems and applications incorporated at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center her master's degree is in biogeography and she translates science research into learning resources for the public classroom teachers and also for students and visitors to parks and museums her current focus is on land cover changes over time climate change stratospheric ozone and air quality now I'd like to turn the program over to our speakers thank you thank you excuse me it's a pleasure to be here so I'm gonna tell you some background information about how ozone forms and I'm gonna tell you some things that we are learning from the aura space spacecraft the instrument sonora which is the satellite that I've been the most involved with for the last well from four years before launch and now we have four four year anniversary of launch coming up this summer we'll talk a little bit about ozone effects on people and plants and how to recognize the ozone injury on the plant leaves making and making your own garden I know you know you you think of ozone and I guess one of the things you should really come away from that with this as an appreciation that we do have the good Oh which is the ozone in the stratosphere where it belongs naturally protecting us from too much ultraviolet radiation and we have the bad ozone which is the ozone down here doing some things that we would rather not have happening but whichever it is it's the same molecule both places and the first step in making ozone is breaking that bond 4:02 molecular oxygen of course we breathe we need to live and to make ozone you've got to break the o2 bond in the upper atmosphere you have the very high-energy ultraviolet radiation that breaks the bond and creates two oxygen atoms when I used to make this diagram for career day at school I used to draw the atomic oxygen oxygen with a sad face because it's very an unstable molecule and it wants to react with anything it can find to react with and the thing that is there the most is o2 or it's almost the most it's like 27 percent of the atmosphere so it finds an o2 very readily and it'll make an ozone and ozone isn't stable like a diatomic oxygen is but it's more stable than atomic oxygen and so you you get to have this ozone layer but ozone also now will be broken apart with it's sort of a two-step process protecting us at the surface from the UV radiation the the very high highest UV radiation gets broken apart breaks apart the o2 and then the o2 will make an ozone and then kind of like the next set of energetically radiation gets taken out by the ozone so we end up having life on Earth which is good for all of us but ozone is will react with other molecules and so you can get really involved in studying the chemistry of the stratosphere or of the troposphere and this little guys really thrilled because he just found out how to make ozone okay so this is a picture just to give you an idea and kind of remind you of some things you probably already know in the troposphere which is where we live if you were climbing up Mount Everest it would get cold holder as you go up and then you would reach a point that they call the tropopause that means the temperature stopped going up that's pretty much all it means and then you get into an area where the temperature starts excuse me it stopped going down and you get to an area where the temperature starts going up and what's making it go up is the ozone absorbing all that ultraviolet radiation that's heat and also the ozone being a broken apart you get to the top of the stratosphere and other things happen when you're in this part in the stratosphere where the temperature is going up you don't have things like we are used to with weather where you get convection and clouds and air mixing up and down and that's it's tends to be in layers we call it strata and that's why it's the stratosphere okay now in the troposphere we're gonna make ozone and we make it from things that trouble spirit chemists like to call precursors which means a a molecule that you have first and then you get ozone second mainly nitrogen oxides and what they called volatile organic compounds or VOCs and you know these because you've come gas and you smell it there's one and there's others some are natural some or not so this is a picture that's showing you if we have sunlight we're gonna get ozone formed with nitrogen oxides which come from automobiles and from power plants when you have high temperature combustion you get not you break that Oh to bond and you get nitrogen oxides and you also have the volatile organics which come from trees or vegetation solvents evaporation a lot of other things and you get these things together and you create ozone now I'm going to tell you a little bit about the or emission we have four instruments on our spacecraft that's our logo it's the first thing that happens when you get a project at NASA you get a logo and the four of them all measure atmospheric composition this is a picture of our satellite we were launched in July of 2004 it's Celeste six years we've gotten a lot of great information from our instruments the this is the first platform that was focused on making measurements in the lower atmosphere as well as measurements in the stratosphere and so you're going to get a lot of information about the troposphere from Tess and from the ozone monitoring instrument this is a picture of the launch which I have to show you because it never gets old and that's a picture of me and two of my daughters trying to see it launched it actually launched late and we didn't get to see it but it just doesn't get old if you ever get a chance to go to a launch you have to go to a launch this is a slide with a lot of information on it and I was even told take it off but I decided to leave it there because I want you to have an idea that each of the instruments in space it's this is the life work of a hundred engineers and a whole lot of other people people to understand how to take the measurement that we measure we're only always measuring ultraviolet at night ultraviolet electromagnetic radiation some kind of photon see how to turn that information into information about what's actually in the atmosphere but also if if you look over there where it's showing you that swath only measures in a in a wide swath 2,600 kilometers and it's only 13 kilometers along so from space this is pretty big 26 by 13 there's a hundred measurements one that swath and we call that high horizontal resolution now you know compared to your neighborhood that isn't very big but we can see a lot of things with that horizontal resolution the ORA instruments do measure some of the EPA criterion pollutants we measure sulfur dioxide nitrogen dioxide we measure Co but not near the surface Co in the middle part of the troposphere and the stratosphere ozone again not near the surface in the the middle troposphere and in the stratosphere but but not at the surface and we measure a lot of aerosols we don't measure lead sulfur dioxide is a is a pretty interesting molecule it comes from a lot of different things the two thirds of the sulfur is man-made we get it from volcanoes power plants smelters and we have a natural source and we can see everything but the natural source in you know me and I'll show you some pictures this is a picture of a volcano erupting and it's on three successive days so you can see the original eruption and then you can see this sulfur cloud being moved around a little bit and this kind of information goes to the transportation people because if you should fly your airplane through a sulfur cloud it would actually kind of wreck the engine so you would just as soon know where the clouds were so you could avoid them now this is a picture of what so2 looks like in the ohio valley from the coal-fired power plants that we have in the united states and that's the upper I guess it's your left or the upper left-hand picture and then down below it so you get an idea of scale you're looking at Europe and you're looking mainly at some European volcanoes you can see Italy's boot there this is what the sulphur looks like in China this is the same scale and this is because in China there they're burning cheaper call that is higher sulfur and without the kind of regulations on their power plants that we have on ours so this just gives you an idea of the scale of things that you're looking at that was sulfur nitrogen dioxide has natural sources like lightning and you also get it at power plants and you get it from transportation cars and trucks and this is again one of the ozone precursors and this is a picture that's showing you where the high level nitrogen dioxide is from omie and you can see the huge red areas lighted up over the East Coast to the United States with a higher resolution picture you can actually see the 95 corridor and and you also see the spots that you think it would be high like Los Angeles is kind of lighted up and you see some other areas in the country if we made a higher resolution sure we can actually identify each power plant in the United States by its nitrogen dioxide footprint now ozone forms over time you have the nitrogen dioxide come out you don't immediately see ozone it will either form when the air moves and is transported away or I can form if you get a situation we get here sometimes where we have a high pressure that lasts for a long time and we're not getting any thunderstorms you'll hook it up there so Osan and its precursor chemicals can travel either great distances or they can travel short distances it just depends on the weather so you know if you have the the weather to bring the stuff up into the middle troposphere it can get caught in the high winds and move a long way or it can move not so far this is a picture that shows you that what volatile organic carbon looks like this is formaldehyde which is produced from various VOCs including isoprene isoprene is emitted naturally from forests so you're looking at a very high level of volatile organics over the southeastern United States you're mainly looking at things that were produced naturally by the by the trees and you can also see the transport in this if you look you see the coast of the United States and you see high values of formaldehyde off the coast and that's happening when longer-lived volatile organics are blown off of the coast and then they are chemically transformed into formaldehyde so what we're coming up with here is a pretty complicated picture of how you have tropospheric ozone you have natural things you have convection you have lightning you have urban pollution you have biomass burning which we haven't really talked about and you have air that comes from the stratosphere and has high ozone it as well so one of our challenges is to figure out what's causing what so that when we do try to develop control strategies we confident that they're effective so just summarizing about the tropospheric ozone it's hard to measure from space the ozone in the stratosphere really hides it from our instruments and so far we can't see it I tell young engineers is the challenge of the 21st century is being able to make remote measurements of surface chemicals so we'll see what happens it's a toxic pollutant here it's a greenhouse gas in the upper troposphere which means that it if we have more ozone in the upper troposphere it means that the surface heating will will be greater what we can measure from from aura is a picture of what the total amount of ozone looks like in the troposphere it isn't the amount that you would see if you were measuring at the ground but it is the amount in the whole vertical depth between where we are and where the troposphere ends and what you can see from this picture up at the top this is a average for the tropospheric ozone in the summertime when we have the higher ozone in the northern hemisphere and you can see that this is truly a global issue because you see this band extending from the United States into the Atlantic over to Europe across Europe and Asia and then out across the Pacific Ocean so we are all connected with each other and local control is important but we have to take the broad view as well and now I'm going to turn you over to Jeannie for the local view Ann and I have N and I have to stand here by the microphone so we can't be Vanna for our own I'm an educator and as an educator I'm always looking for ways to make things that may that are very abstract we're talking about remote sensing of something that's usually invisible make it real for people and that's really the best function of the gardens is to make something tangible and connected so again the reason ozone is bad to breathe is that single oxygen atom dissociates easily and recombines inside plants inside people it's like it's like a slow burn is what I was told by the medical folks so plants respire they take in air through the stomata ozone dissociates and goes inside the planet and disrupts various processes in there this is the the sign the symptom of ozone injury you'll see that a number of times than the minutes of presentation because you'll walk out if you're knowing how to recognize ozone damage it's the visible I think my mic volume just went up mmm the visible symptoms are tiny spots just like somebody took a pepper shaker and shook it evenly spaced the plant if it's a sensitive plant not all of them are ozone sensitive it'll have reduced photosynthesis which means you have reduced growth and if you're growing your plants for money you have reduced profit so the plant has to work harder to protect itself from ozone and it comes under chronic stress there are things that happen under ground as well as above the surface I read one article about research into the fact that ozone was interfering with nitrogen fixation this is one of the the two bad things is that when sunlight is very intense tends to be it's the growing season so you tend to have higher ozone when the plant it's really charged up and doing a lot of a lot of photosynthesis this is one particular graph I've seen quite a bit I know there's there's been a lot of research on plants on Ozone's effects on agricultural plants there was an office at US Department of Agriculture out in Beltsville which was closed about five years ago when I began this and writing about it for NASA I think you can see the plants that were studied it sorghum field corn winter wheat soybean I can't even read it I'll read it here peanut and cotton mmm I want to be sure to make it clear that it's not all species of sorghum it's not all species of cotton it's not it's within each species you can have varieties that are more or less sensitive and that's going to be true of people as well what kind of variety are you are you what's your sign should we live in this video in the suburb okay and there the environment is very complicated it's another reason you can't you can't draw immediate parallels between this amount of ozone on these number this number of days and an exact say percentage of leaf area that's been that's been damaged there is a list of ozone sensitive and ozone alert species that I left out on the table out there if you want one and don't get one or if you want an electronic version please feel free to email or call me this particular list is from the US National Park Service from 2003 there are some examples redbud milkweed so we know these things because studies have been done with fumigation chambers it's been done in Europe it's been done the Environment Environmental Protection Agency has been doing some of this work and USDA so again we don't put people in fumigation chambers because you don't want to subject them to this kind of harm but we do know the effects even though it's again difficult to separate out the ozone high ozone from high particulates for example when you have a high pollution event but we do know what some of the effects are on people this is from the American review of respiratory diseases a fellow called eros and Ann and I were wondering how did how did he get that particular set of slides and we of course we can't tell you but this was from a researcher pathology researcher that I interviewed a couple of years ago mmm who pointed out know if you can see them there's when that in the top you see the cilia are lined up very nicely and in the bottom the cilia are not lined up anymore they're having a big hard time there and there's the red arrows are pointing to some tiny little bodies that they gave a name true neutrophil I'm not sure what that means but their bodies that were not in the healthy lung tissue so this particular fact is important to me because I live in Prince George's County upwind of a lot of ozone sources of the precursors to ozone and I know my air is bad I know my I've raised my children in the air that's not great I think it was last year the year before a colleague at Great Smoky Mountains National Park pointed me to a research paper that said during that particular year four out of the five highest ozone pollution areas in the country where national parks and that's that's because they're upwind of the sources it's a very serious issue at Great Smoky Mountains National Park it's a very serious issue at Shenandoah National Park I think Kings Canyon and Sequoia were the other national parks that were on that list so you go there and you take a hike and breathin not to be not to be negative about this it's just something we all need to know and aura honestly is showing us things about ozone precursors on a global scale and on a transport scale that we just didn't know before and people were disagreeing about some of these amounts by orders of magnitude so the notion of having an ozone biomonitoring garden began in my experience at Great Smoky Mountains National Park there was a garden that was being used for research and Susan Saxe who's in the National Park uniform noticed it was being used only two weeks of the year so she said an opportunity for teaching she got together with some with Jack Fishman at Langley Research Center and his education his fabulous master teacher irene Ladd and Margaret Pippin and they came up worked with University pathologists to come up with a protocol for people like us who are not pathologists to recognize ozone damage in the leaves of certain sensitive plants so here's how you do it I think peg noticed that that's that's cut leaf coneflower that is the plant that we use there to plants we're currently using as protocol plants so that's the tiny little spots and there's yellowing yellowing can come from other things so but the tiny little spots are characteristic they're evenly spaced they're on the upper surface of the leaf they're not on the lower surface unless the whole leaf structure has died and they're not in the veins of the leaf so again it's very fine spots various in color on the upper surface not in veins and also the older lease will show more damage and the leaves that are exposed to sunlight and breeze with a lot of the air coming by will show more so with all of those characteristics together you can be pretty sure of being able to recognize when it's ozone and when it's some other problem on the upper left is a healthy cut leaf cone flower leaf on the right is an ozone damaged leaf and I want to be sure to remember to tell you that our ozone garden at the NASA does not show a lot of ozone damage because of where we are either because of where we are in a big green space or because of the ratio of nitrogen dioxide to the volatile organic compounds that are there so where you put your garden is important we can get into that a little bit later I live as the crow flies probably less than a mile from the garden at NASA and that plant was growing I'm honest I'm on a dead-end street in the suburb and that plant was the damaged one was growing by my driveway so okay this was taken in this is ozone damage you can't see he's so close up but that's ozone damage on on the mountains nearby where all we where we all live just to show you some examples that sumac and you can see it's not in the veins black-eyed Susan tulip poplar blackberry now why would the older leaves show more damage they've been around longer why what do you mean yes we're more finely tuned yeah so when you have a clump of vegetation the ozone damage is going to appear on the edge of it and that's another great way to know whether you're looking at ozone damage or something else we're flying through our hour here we can do the classroom activity so is this ozone damaged or not on the on the top no why right it's not even some of the veins are damaged soybeans sudden death syndrome yeah I know it's horrible so the garden we would like to be able to tell you that you can go get or a data that's going to tell you and have a direct relationship between what the satellite can see on the ground and what you can see in your plants and we are absolutely not able to do that we just can't but what you can use the gardens for you can use the gardens for do I have ozone damage do I have high ozone pollution or not yes or no you can use them for again a public awareness and public education or a classroom education tool these are high school students and again as Anne pointed out it's it's so variable that and again my neighborhood has high ozone and over at Goddard Space Flight Center there's more open space there's either more open space or a higher ratio of nitrogen dioxide so we're not getting much ozone damage there that's the garden it's very simple next to the the rocket back there Cardinal flower is ozone sensitive and of course what we can do is link it to aura in a fairly indirect way most people don't know that NASA is observing air quality we like people to know that Gallaudet University has had ozone gardens in a pot you can just start out with a big pot and and right there there are there's coneflower as the protocol plant there's also snap beans there's ozone sensitive and ozone tolerant snap beans so that's the protocol plant at NASA we have genetic stock from Great Smoky Mountains National Park so if you're serious about it and you want coneflower stock I have Brooke Carter and I my colleague have a propagation bed for the purpose of cranking it out to give to people it's very easy to grow and deer don't eat it in our experience we we thought we're gonna have to put up a fence mm-hmm for a couple thousand dollars and would take us several months to get through the bureaucracy to make it happen but the deer were not eating they ate the beans so we're not doing the beans they are the rabbits ate the beans but they have not eaten our coneflower the other joy about this plant is that butterflies like it you can have milk we come flower garden the butterflies happy another one is that its perennial you don't have to plant it over it does very well it was susceptible to drought last summer I didn't water it enough and that became a problem but we had a big drought last summer so again you can use it do I have high ozone or don't I or you can get a little more deeply into it more quantitative with it you can take a workshop with broker me and in a couple of hours two three like we like to give you the background on on how I was on forms we like you to know what NASA is doing but you can learn to follow the protocol the fundamental part of it is that you learn to estimate the area of the leaf that's been damaged and there other things you do you measure the plant height so that you can just keep track of its growth number of leaves whether it's flowering or not and any other observations you only have to do that once every two weeks I think once a week is better it's just to give you a sense of there's a rating system there's a little form that you fill out there's an interagency program called hands on the land through which you can submit data on your plants and you'll I think this is going to work I show you if you watch the vertical layer of the leaves there you'll see them turn redder as time goes by so this is representing data someone submitted on a particular plant and the lower 8 leaves of that particular plant as time went by it got better and deader and then leave the bottom leaves just died drop off so it's a nice educational tool for kids you can become part of the NASA network Brook and I have we think it would be very interesting to have a network of gardens that say there's one downtown you can see if there's any relationship between ozone amounts that are recorded there and the ozone amounts rerecord and what happens to the plants it's a little bit iffy but it would be fun just to have a network people I have with me an inexpensive instrument which was also developed in it was developed in collaboration with the globe program by the folks at Langley Research Center and their colleagues it's called as Akua and it's right here it's a very simple instrument I won't show you all the details about how it works but you get a little strip little strip that has chemicals on it you calibrate the instrument put the strip in to calibrate the instrument and leave the strip out hanging in a certain a good place for it for an hour and then you go back get the strip stick it in here and you get your parts-per-billion you can also get go back thank you you can also get more expensive instruments there's one I found just begun to look into it for about $1,500 you can get an instrument that does continuous measurements of ozone and reads the measurements out on a display I don't know if it keeps the record I would hope that it would but you could spend a couple thousand dollars and be able to have constant measuring of ozone so you could compare that to what happens with your plants these are the URLs for NASA's aura Mission Earth Observatory if you're interested in earth observations from space at all it's a fabulous place to start it's just Earth Observatory there is background there on everything NASA is doing and Langley Research Center irene Ladd Jack Fishman and colleagues have an ozone website that's the scoop no thank you [Applause] this has been a presentation of the Library of Congress visit us at

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