University of Nizwa Collaborates with NASA and Environmental Authority to Study Air Quality and Climate Change in
Rawan Al Nadabi
For the first time in the Middle East region, the University of Nizwa and the Environmental Authority are collaborating with NASA to establish an air quality modelling project in Oman. This joint research aims to study the relationship between climate change and air quality in Oman.
Ishraqah this issue interviewed Dr Baiju Dayanandan, the project's Principal Investigator, to speak about the new and first-of-its-kind projects in the region. Dr Baiju highlighted that the idea of this project came out of the necessity to analyse and assist the air quality in the Middle East generally and Oman particularly due to the the air quality issue faced by the world. Air quality could affect the health and life of the individual for instance air pollution could reduce two years of life.
Dr. Baiju was asked about the requirements for a groundbreaking project. He indicated that the road to achieving this project was not pavement. Still, it took an important milestone to reach the stage of receiving equipment from NASA and initiating its installation at the University. The University has always been a leading institution in the field of sustainability and the environment, particularly in projects impacting the public and future generations.
The University of Nizwa signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with NASA to begin the 10-year AERONET project. As part of this strategic partnership, the University established Sun photometer stations at designated locations, fortifying the AERONET global network.
The students of the University play a part in this project, Concurrently, six final-year physics students are actively involved in deciphering data from NASA instruments, contributing to a deeper understanding of Oman's climatology and air quality. Previously, twelve final-year graduation project students received online
training from NASA and the Indian Space Research Organization to further bolster their research capabilities.
The University has recently obtained a new device called an optical particle sizer. This advanced instrument is used to measure the size of particulate matter present in the air. It has 16 channels that can detect particles ranging from 0.3 to 10.0 microns. The researchers work with weather information from the Directorate of Civil Aviation and environmental data from the Environmental Authority of Oman to evaluate air quality, its impact on health, and climate conditions.
Collaborations with other research organisations such as Atmospheric Chemistry Observations & Modeling, the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR), and the Indian Institute of Technology Bhubaneswar help broaden the research scope. This project was made possible by the Research Council (TRC) initiative called "Synergy of ground-based and satellite measurements for atmospheric aerosol monitoring over the Middle East (BFP/RGP/EBR/21/009)."
The University is gearing up to present its findings at the Oman Conference for Environmental Sustainability and Decarbonization in February 2024. This platform offers a great opportunity to share insights with a wider audience. The University is not only committed to contributing to a better understanding of atmospheric changes but also aspires to lay the groundwork for future atmospheric modelling efforts in Oman. The NASA AERONET project and TRC project at the University of Nizwa are making significant progress, and there is a lot of anticipation for the long-term impact of their research on climate and air quality studies. Ultimately, the results presented will provide valuable input for major national and international assessments, supporting policy development by organizations such as the IPCC and the CCAC (Climate and Clean Air Coalition).
In conclusion, The project aims to study the relationship between climate change and air quality in Oman, which is crucial for the health and well-being of individuals. The University of Nizwa has been at the forefront of sustainability and environmental research, and this project is a testament to its commitment. The findings of this project will play a crucial role in supporting policy development and contributing to a better understanding of atmospheric changes. The University of Nizwa and its partners are paving the way for future atmospheric modelling efforts in Oman, and their work is anticipated to have a long-term impact on climate and air quality studies.