About the WRAP Technical Support System (TSS)

The TSS is an online portal to the technical data and analytical results prepared by the members of the Western Regional Air Partnership for supporting States and Tribes in the development of their State and Tribal Implementation Plans (SIPs and TIPs) for tracking progress related to the EPA’s Regional Haze Rule. The TSS project is supported by multiple state agencies with project management assistance from WESTAR-WRAP and technology development and operation by CSU-CIRA.


Table of Contents
Overview

The primary purpose of the TSS is to provide key summary analytical results and methods documentation for the required technical elements of the Regional Haze Rule, to support the preparation, completion, evaluation, and implementation of the regional haze implementation plans to improve visibility in Class I areas. The TSS provides technical results prepared using a regional approach, to include summaries and analysis of the comprehensive datasets used to identify the sources and regions contributing to regional haze in the Western Regional Air Partnership (WRAP) region.

The secondary purpose of the TSS is to be the one-stop-shop for access, visualization, analysis, and retrieval of the technical data and regional analytical results prepared by WRAP Forums and Workgroups in support of regional haze planning in the West. The TSS specifically summarizes results and consolidates information about air quality monitoring, meteorological and receptor modeling data analyses, emissions inventories and models, and gridded air quality/visibility regional modeling simulations. These copious and diverse data are integrated for application to air quality planning purposes by prioritizing and refining key information and results into explanatory tools.

Finally, a major goal of the TSS is to make the standard and user-specified maps, charts, tables, and graphs easily available for export, while maintaining the original source data available for verification and subsequent analysis through the TSS.

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Purpose

Air quality planners who use the TSS typically need answers to questions such as: “What pollutants are affecting a given area?”, and “Where do they originate?” The answers depend upon accurate assessment of ambient pollutant concentrations and source attribution of the primary pollutants and precursors. While FLMs and states are occupied on an ongoing basis with these goals, states are further mandated to answer “What can be done to reduce these impacts?”, because the Regional Haze Rule requires states and tribes to develop implementation plans for reducing emissions and demonstrating reasonable progress towards doing so. These plans must provide for an improvement during the 20% worst visibility days while also ensuring no visibility degradation during the 20% best visibility days. To accomplish this, planners must identify the pollutants, quantify their amounts, and determine the sources of anthropogenic emissions that contribute to this pollution on both the “best” and the “worst” visibility days in a given area. They must then determine available control measures for each source and evaluate these measures on the basis of costs, time, energy and environmental impacts, and the remaining life of the source. Planners then employ these analyses to decide what controls to implement, estimate projected improvements, and track their progress in reaching these goals. The resulting decisions have obvious ecological impacts but can also have important political and economic impacts in the sense that deciding which sources to control is a politically-significant issue and the process of controlling emissions and tracking progress costs money and takes time.

The TSS employs an advanced data acquisition and import system to integrate data from several air quality data centers into a single, highly-optimized data warehouse. Ground-based measurements from dozens of monitoring networks, air quality modeling results, and detailed emissions inventories are imported and updated on a regular basis using a generalized, uniform data model and carefully standardized metadata. Names, codes, units, and data quality flags from the source datasets are carefully mapped to a unified paradigm, and native formats and organizations are transformed into a common, normalized database schema. This design enables users to explore, merge, and analyze datasets of widely-varying origin in a consistent, unified manner with a common set of tools and web services. This degree of interoperability allows decision-makers to analyze diverse datasets side-by-side and focus on high-level planning strategies without having to contend with the details of data management and manipulation.

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Website

The TSS website provides planners with a wide array of data query tools, ad hoc spatial analysis capabilities, source attribution tools, real-world case studies from state implementation plans, and dynamic visualization tools such as time series graphs, stacked bar charts, scatter plots, species composition charts, and dynamic data maps. Planners use these tools to 1) analyze current and historic air quality conditions (including aerosol composition for the best and worst visibility days, natural background visibility conditions estimates, and modeled projections of visibility in future years), 2) identify pollutant sources (including biogenic, federal and international, and controllable anthropogenic sources) and their relative contributions to visibility impairment in Class I Areas (source apportionment), 3) determine Reasonable Progress goals for reducing emissions, and 4) develop long-term control strategies for achieving natural visibility conditions in protected ecosystems by 2064.

The TSS was architected as a “system of systems” which integrates capabilities from the following online systems and data centers:

  • Monitoring data analysis efforts in support of haze planning for the more 100 federally-protected Class I visibility areas in the WRAP region, documented by the Visibility Information Exchange Web System, VIEWS which provides on-line access to monitoring data, research results and special studies related to visibility, and WRAP’s Causes of Haze Assessment project (CoHA) which presents a detailed analysis of ambient monitoring data for regional haze in the West;
  • Consistent and regionally comparable emissions data for analysis and haze planning at appropriate spatial, temporal, and chemistry scales, including the:
    • Tribal Emissions Inventory Software Solution (TEISS);
    • Emissions Data Management System (EDMS), and
    • Fire Emissions Tracking System (FETS);
  • Photochemical aerosol regional modeling analyses and technical assistance for haze planning and analysis of other air quality management issues, using state-of-the-science tools from the Regional Modeling Center RMC at UC Riverside, and
  • Visualization and summary data analysis of regionally consistent data and information in transparent and accessible formats, to support the dissemination and understanding of policy and planning decisions by WRAP members (states, tribes, and federal land managers) in the WRAP TSS.

The TSS provides a one stop web-based resource to access and display regional haze technical data and it represents a reference location to support individual regional haze plans and the technical methodologies used in them. TSS will facilitate ongoing tracking and assessment of emissions reductions codified in the regional haze plans prepared by states, tribes, and EPA, and continue to house and deliver on-going monitoring data.

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About the WRAP

The Western Regional Air Partnership (WRAP) is a collaborative effort of tribal governments, state governments and various federal agencies to implement the recommendations of the Grand Canyon Visibility Transport Commission and to develop and implement the technical and policy tools needed by western states and tribes to comply with the U.S. EPA's regional haze regulations. Other common air quality issues raised by WRAP members may also be addressed.

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