The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) Monitoring Division makes it a goal to inform the public and businesses about real-time air quality and meteorological changes so that they can make informed decisions. Using a geostationary satellite in conjunction with multiple ambient air monitoring stations located throughout Texas, as well as data from other governmental agencies, allows TCEQ to provide the most complete information and statistics about air quality. Additionally, TCEQ has developed a custom air quality modeling software that “uses aggregates and analyzes a vast amount of incoming atmospheric data” in order to capture the most accurate air quality data.
To keep the readings and information as accurate as possible, TCEQ compares their own results with those of the NOAA and the Naval Research Lab models. “If there are discrepancies, the meteorologists will review the processes and incoming data to make sure that everything is working correctly and all the numbers are accurate.” The TCEQ model is unique because it accounts for sea breezes and stalled fronts, which are relevant factors for Texas air quality, making the air quality forecast more accurate and dependable for the region. Using a software with region-specific inputs and variables, utilizing constant software updates and fixes, and incorporating multiple data sets help ensure that the readings and forecasts are as accurate as possible.
The air quality in a particular area is dependent on multiple factors, including weather (heavy rains can often clean up the air, while lack of rain can allow for buildup of particular matter) and trade wind patterns. The TCEQ’s daily air quality forecasts take the relevant factors into account and are models after the EPA Air Quality Index. This index “categorizes ozone and particulate matter” levels on a scale that ranges from good to hazardous. Though weather events can be difficult to predict, TCEQ takes time into account to develop an accurate air quality forecast; the index measures ozone in short, eight-hour periods, making their readings and reports a great analytical tool for Texas air quality.