It's Our Air - 2-3 Forecasting Air Quality

FORECASTING AIR QUALITY ACTIVITY

In this activity, students will use real maps, images, and data to develop an ozone forecast for a particular day in Charlotte, North Carolina. They will then check their forecast against the actual ozone forecast and measurements for that day. Students should already have experience reading weather maps and forecasting weather before doing this activity.

ESSENTIAL QUESTIONS:
How do meteorologists forecast air quality?
What tools do meteorologists use to forecast air quality?

TIME NEEDED: This activity will take about 30-45 minutes for an AP class and up to a full block period for an Earth/Environmental Science class.

MATERIALS:

ALL MATERIALS FOR THIS ACTIVITY ARE INCLUDED.

ALL MATERIALS FOR THIS ACTIVITY ARE INCLUDED.

Video 2-3: Forecasting Air Quality (included)
Sample forecast discussion from the Division of Air Quality (provided in Warm Up section)

Weather Maps and Satellite Images for Sept. 1, 2011
• Surface Analysis Map (ground-level air pressure)
• Map with maximum temperatures
• Map with precipitation
• Map with average wind speeds
• Satellite images showing clouds

Table of ozone forecast history for the month of August, 2011
Map with ozone data from Sept. 1, 2011
2 Maps with precipitation forecast models
NOAA air quality forecast model
North Carolina Division of Air Quality Forecast Discussion of Sept. 1, 2011
Worksheets

TOPICS: ground-level ozone, forecasting air quality

TYPES: data analysis

NC ESSENTIAL STANDARDS for Earth/Environmental Science:

EEn.2.5 Understand the structure of and processes within our atmosphere.
EEn.2.5.2 Explain the formation of typical air masses and the weather systems that result from air mass interactions.
EEn.2.5.4 Predict the weather using available weather maps and data (including surface, upper atmospheric winds, and satellite imagery)
EEn.2.5.5 Explain how human activities affect air quality.

If you are only doing this activity, and not the others in Module 2, you may want to show the 2-3 Forecasting Air Quality Video to your students after they do this activity.

DOWNLOAD VIDEO FILE

FORECASTING AIR QUALITY VIDEO

The video discusses how we know which pollutants are in our air, how that information is communicated to the public, and why knowing that information is important for people who are active outdoors because of the health problems these pollutants can cause, in particular ground-level ozone and particulate matter. It includes a tour of a Division of Air Quality monitoring station, an interview with NC Division of Air Quality meteorologists who talk about the complexities of air quality forecasting, and introduces the Air Quality Index and what the color codes mean.

Video downloads are able to display subtitles. We recommend using VLC media player for optimal playback of subtitles.


FORECASTING AIR QUALITY? - TEACHER TO TEACHER TIPS

The quick video below has tips for doing this activity from Mark Townley, an award-winning, North Carolina high school teacher. Mark helped develop It’s Our Air and has used each of these activities with his students.


 

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OTHER MODULE 2 (PREDICTING AIR POLLUTION) ACTIVITIES AND VIDEO

2-1 What's an Air Quality Index

2-2 Making a Simple Predictive Model for Ground-Level Ozone

2-3 Forecasting Air Quality (this activity)