Baltimore Ecosystem Study Institute of Ecosystem Studies

2016 BES Annual Meeting Presentation and Poster Abstracts

The Use of Inexpensive Environmental Sensors for Air Quality and Meteorological Research within the Wildland Urban Interface
Hom, John
Co-Authors: John Hom, USDA Forest Service, NRS; Steve Roberts, UC San Diego; Tom Whitlow, Cornell University; and Matthew Patterson, USDA Forest Service, NRS

Abstract: The use of inexpensive air quality sensors stems from fire and smoke research, where monitoring and modeling of low level smoke amd particulates within the burn and their distribution downwind has been a priority for public safety and fire fighter health. Monitoring air quality changes within a dynamically changing environment such as a prescribed burn or a pollution source within the urban environment requires an array of sensors that can be distributed downwind and spatially relevant in order to validate air pollution models. The cost of reference monitors makes this type of monitoring prohibative. The use of inexpensive air quality and meteorological sensors such as PM2.5, CO, CO2 and barometric pressure allows us to monitor air quality in heterogeneous land use and complex terrain, typically found in the wildland urban interface and urban to rural gradients. Examples of these sensors in stationary and portable monitoring systems are now operational which can be monitored remotely or online. The costs, benefits and limitations are compared with commercial sensors.