From Earth Science Information Partners (ESIP)

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Data System Name: AIRNow
Data System URL: http://see.below Several, see below under "About"
Contact Person: John White, Tim Dye
Contact e-mail:,


About the Data System (Purposes, Audience)

[[About::The U.S. EPA, NOAA, NPS, tribal, state, and local agencies developed AIRNow to provide the public, the media, and decision-makers with easy access to nationwide air quality information. The main web site offers daily Air Quality Index (AQI) forecasts as well as real-time AQI conditions for over 300 cities across the US, and provides links to more detailed state and local air quality Web sites. The primary purposes of AIRNow are to 1) collect and provide information to enable the public and others to take make health-based decisions, 2) provide information exchange and data access for local, tribal, state, and federal air quality agencies, and 3) provide real-time data to other research and operational data systems (NASA, NOAA, Universities, etc.).

  • Main AIRNow website
  • Data and information distribution system that allows organizations to register and access the publicly available AIRNow data. Data can be accessed in text files (CSV format) and web services
  • Technical portal into AIRNow Data Management Center that allows stakeholders to control their data, submit their forecasts, use the GIS Navigator, and monitor status of their data.
  • Monitoring system that shows the products developed by AIRNow and allows the AIRNow DMC and EPA staff to monitor the AIRNow system.
  • Media- Shows examples of how the media are displaying and using information provided by the AIRNow program.
  • Smog Stories - Shows output from a joint EPA-NASA pilot project to combine real-time air quality data and satellite images to develop informative stories for the media.
  • Public communicators’ portal for contributing and exchanging information about public outreach programs throughout the U.S.]]

Presentation PUBS.ppt


[[DataSystemHistory::The roots of the AIRNow program go back to 1995 when the American Lung Association of Maryland developed ozone pollution maps that regularly appeared on television weather broadcasts in the Washington, D.C. area. Although very useful and informative to the public, the effort needed to produce these maps (data transfer, quality control, processing, etc.) was substantial and too costly to continue the following year. In the United States, air pollution problems tend to be regional in nature. Because ozone measurements collected by numerous state and local agencies were not centrally available for mapping, in 1997 EPA developed a regional Ozone Mapping System to automatically transfer data to a central location, perform data conversion and quality control, and generate animated ozone maps in near real-time. This system would be the starting point of AIRNow.

AIRNow expanded rapidly with funding from one of President Clinton’s eGovernment initiatives, EMPACT (Environmental Monitoring for Public Access and Community Tracking). The goal of EMPACT was to take advantage of new technologies for providing environmental information to the public in real time, including: 1) Collecting, managing, and distributing time-relevant environmental information and 2) Providing the public with easy-to-understand information they can use in making informed, day-to-day decisions. AIRNow was the largest and most successful EMPACT project. Funds from EMPACT enabled states to purchase new hardware and software needed to upgrade their data collection infrastructure and effectively participate in AIRNow.

Today the AIRNow program continues to grow to include other pollutants and meteorological data. State and local agencies find the AIRNow program to be a critical tool for protecting public health by providing their citizens with real-time air quality information. (See Partners)]]


EPA, National, State and Local Partners

List of Publications, Papers, Presentations





Data System Scope

Data Content

Datasets Served

Hourly, real-time air quality and meteorological surface data from throughout the U.S., Canada, and border regions of Mexico. 2000 sites and growing.
Daily air quality forecast issued for over 300 cites/regions
Data feeds with text files, web services, and web sites to many organizations and other systems (,
Daily air quality outlooks depicting weather and air quality conditions (
Daily email forecasts via EnviroFlash
Periodic news pegs describing an air quality event
Educational materials about air quality, pollutants, health effects, forecasting, etc. (


Spatial - Temporal Coverage

U.S., Canada, and border regions of Mexico from 2002 to present.



Data and forecasts submitted by the AIRNow partner agencies is distributed in many ways to help protect public health:

Forecasting and Reanalysis

AIRNow-Tech is the main technical portal for the forecasters and analysts to query, process, and display air quality and meteorological data. Typical types of applications include:

  • Querying real-time and historical data analysis
  • Submitting forecasts to the AIRNow program; verifying forecasts
  • Viewing real-time and historical data
  • Event reanalysis and reconstruction – See these videos for examples: and
  • Operational model verification – See:

Model/Emissions Evaluation

Model initialization and assimilation -
Model verification

Characterization, Trends, Accountability

[[DataSystemAppCharact::Conducting case studies –
Local air quality trends and climatology -
Seasonal air quality trends and news stories - 2005 ozone national recap


Art and culture: - she recently used data from AIRNow in an art exhibit in Boulder.

Data System IT

Primary/Official Store for Some data

AIRNow is the primary store for national real-time air quality data, however the raw data exists at the State, local, or tribal agency level. It is also the store for the official air quality forecast that is issued by state/local agencies. AQS is the official store for this same data.

Data Consolidation/integration

AIRNow serves to consolidate real-time data and forecasts from agencies across the country. The AIRNowTech systems also perform some integration by pulling in meteorological data, fire and smoke information, trajectory modeling, etc.

Providing Data Access to users/externals

AIRNow itself provides AQI data to the public. Raw, numerical data is available to stakeholders via AIRNowTech. AIRNow Gateway is a new addition that provides data streams to a variety of customers, utilizing a web service infrastructure.

Data Processing

Processing is done at the AIRNow Data Management Center, using Oracle and other custom code. QA/QC and data integration are the primary processing steps at the DMC.


Public visualization is via animated GIF maps, offered on the AIRNow.Gov website. Dynamic visualization may be accomplished via the Navigator tool on AIRNowTech. In addition, AQI current conditions and forecasts are available as KML and can be used for Google Earth mashups (

Decision Support (e.g. some integration into user business process)

Public visualization is via animated GIF maps, offered on the AIRNow.Gov website. Dynamic visualization may be accomplished via the Navigator tool on AIRNowTech. In addition, AQI current conditions and forecasts are available as KML and can be used for Google Earth mashups (

End-to-End Integration

Data processing, QA/QC, integration, and visualization are all performed within the AIRNow system of systems.

Other DS Values

Not Given

Data Access and/or Output Interoperability

Data is available in a variety of common formats – KML, ASCII text, and web services.

Reusable Tools and Methods

AIRNow Gateway’s use of standardized web services makes those solutions reusable.

Security Barriers and Solutions

The main security barrier for AIRNow is getting real-time data and products through the EPA firewall. This was overcome by installing a dedicated file transfer server that uses SSH connections to the Data Management Center, as well as SSH to the web server. This provides a secure, but rapid, file transfer solution.

User Feedback Approach

User feedback is collected from the public via a Comment Handler package. Stakeholder input is collected via the Data Management Center hotline and its staff.

Other Architecture

Not Given

User Provided Content