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Air quality products derived from advanced remote sensing and numerical model forecasts


ICIMOD, Kathmandu, Nepal

Date & Time

04 April 2022 to 07 April 2022


About the training

We are collaborating with the University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH) to organize a training on air quality products derived from advanced remote sensing and numerical model forecasts. The training is organized within the framework of ICIMOD’s SERVIR Hindu Kush Himalaya (SERVIR-HKH) Initiative and Atmospheric Watch Initiative (AWI), and as part of the NASA SERVIR Applied Sciences Team’s (AST) institutional capacity building approach.

Through this training, the participants will learn how advanced satellite remote sensing technology and modelling techniques can be used to significantly improve air quality monitoring and forecasting capabilities over the highly-polluted Hindu Kush Himalaya (HKH) region. The training will cover a wide range of topics, including the fundamentals of remote sensing for monitoring fires, trace gases, and aerosols, an overview of data products, new value-added products, forecast information from trajectory and chemical transport models, and data visualization.

The training will consist of online lectures that will demonstrate the complementary benefits of assessing air quality information from satellite observations and forecast models for characterizing the diurnal evolution of pollutant concentrations in the troposphere.



This training aims to provide theoretical and practical knowledge to professionals in using remote sensing and model data for air quality monitoring and forecasting applications.



Upon completion of the training, participants will have a better understanding of the concepts of remote sensing and model data for both air quality monitoring and forecasting applications, which will build knowledge and promote the effective use of air quality products and tools. Participants will also understand the benefits and limitations of air quality products and tools for unique air pollution issues that impact the HKH region.


Expected participants

Professionals from ICIMOD and the HKH region will be participating in this training. Participants will require a basic knowledge of aerosols and atmospheric composition.


Resource persons and facilitators

UAH: Aaron Naeger, Research Scientist

ICIMOD: Bhupesh Adhikary, Senior Air Quality Specialist; Rajesh Bahadur Thapa, Senior Remote Sensing & Geoinformation Specialist



  1. Satellite Remote Sensing: Red-Green-Blue (RGB) & Fire Detection Products
  2. Remote Sensing of Trace Gases and Value-Added Products
  3. Operational Forecasting of Pollution for Improving Air Quality Alerts



Air pollution is a serious environmental and public health concern in the HKH region due to strong and abundant emission sources and high levels of transported pollution across the region. The Kathmandu Valley, Nepal is especially vulnerable to poor air quality due to the trapping of pollution by the surrounding mountains leading to high levels of exposure and impact on human health. A network of ground-based air quality sensors is typically used to monitor air pollution across the HKH region, but the sensors are unable to characterize sharp and important gradients in pollutant concentrations due to large gaps in coverage and do not provide early-warning information for informing decision-making.

Space-borne remote sensing from low Earth orbit (LEO) and geosynchronous equatorial orbit (GEO) satellites can provide high spatiotemporal information on trace gases and aerosols for advancing capabilities to monitor air quality across the HKH region. The high-resolution satellite observations can also be used to inform model simulations and improve air quality forecasts to better alert the public of impending pollution episodes.


Tentative agenda

All timestamps are in Nepal Standard Time (NST)

Satellite remote sensing, RGB products, and aerosols

Time Topic
09:30–12:30 Morning session (S1): Remote sensing of aerosols and red-green-blue (RGB) products
Training overview and introduction of the participants – Rajesh Bahadur Thapa, ICIMOD

Satellite remote sensing of aerosols – Aaron Naeger, UAH

  • Introduction to satellite remote sensing of aerosols
  • Standard aerosol data products
  • Aerosol composites and particulate matter products
  • Overview of dust and nighttime microphysics RGB products
  • Demonstration of dust and nighttime microphysics RGB products
12:30–13:30 Lunch

Satellite remote sensing, trace gases, and value-added products

Time Topic
09:30–12:30 Morning session (S2): Remote sensing of trace gases and value-added pollution products
Satellite remote sensing of trace gases – Aaron Naeger, UAH

  • Introduction to satellite remote sensing of trace gases
  • Offline and near real-time trace gas data products
  • Blended satellite and model air quality products

Hands-on exercises – Aaron Naeger, UAH

  • Creating and inspecting trace gas concentration maps using Python
12:30–13:30 Lunch

Monitoring and forecasting extreme pollution episodes

Time Topic
09:30–12:30 Morning session (S3): Forecasting of extreme pollution events and air quality alerts
Air quality forecasting and WRF-Chem model – Aaron Naeger, UAH

  • Introduction to air quality forecasting with WRF-Chem model
  • WRF-Chem forecast demonstrations and tailored data products
  • Using satellite data to constrain model emissions

Trajectory forecasts for extreme events

  • Framework for HYSPLIT trajectory forecasts
  • Demonstration using HYSPLIT for predicting dust storm transport and surface-layer concentrations

Closing discussion

12:30–13:30 Lunch

Time Topic
09:00–12:00 Site visit to Dhulikhel Air Quality Monitoring Observatory
12:00–13:00 Lunch at Dhulikhel
13:00–17:00 Visit to Air Quality Monitoring Server and System of Department of Environment, Nepal
17:00 Return back to hotel


Atmospheric Watch Initiative

The Atmospheric Watch Initiative (AWI) focuses on monitoring emissions of key air pollutants and climate species in the HKH region. The initiative conducts rigorous scientific and social analysis using multiple datasets and/or combinations of field, modelling, and remote sensing data to address growing concerns about deteriorating air quality, impacts on ecosystems and health, changes in atmospheric heating and cooling, and changes in the strength and timing of the monsoon. These studies are critical in informing and influencing policies and mitigation strategies in the region.



A joint initiative of NASA, USAID, and leading geospatial organizations in Asia, Africa, and Latin America, SERVIR partners with countries in these regions to address critical challenges in climate change, food security, water and related disasters, land use, and air quality. Using satellite data and geospatial technology, SERVIR co-develops innovative solutions through a network of regional hubs to improve resilience and sustainable resource management at local, national, and regional scales.


SERVIR Hindu Kush Himalaya

ICIMOD implements the SERVIR Hindu Kush Himalaya (SERVIR-HKH) Initiative – one of five regional hubs of the SERVIR network – in its Regional Member Countries, prioritizing activities in Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Nepal, and Pakistan. For more information on SERVIR-HKH, please visit or write to