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Tuesday, September 02, 2014
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Integrated Database

The Visibility Information Exchange Web System (VIEWS)

VIEWS is an online system of tools and resources designed to provide easy access to a wide variety of air quality data. Its original goal of providing data and results related to visibility impairment in Class I Areas has since been expanded to include climate change, health effects, emissions control strategies, and general environmental impacts. VIEWS integrates data from ground-based monitoring stations, air quality models, emissions inventories, and satellites into a unified system of tools and resources.
 

Overview

The Visibility Information Exchange Web System (VIEWS) is an online decision support system developed to help states, tribes, federal land managers (FLMs), scientists, planners, and students evaluate air quality and visibility in federally-protected ecosystems according to the stringent requirements of the EPA’s Regional Haze Rule and the National Ambient Air Quality Standards. The VIEWS team maintains a comprehensive database of air quality data from over two dozen monitoring networks and is constantly acquiring new data sets and adding new networks. The VIEWS website offers many air quality tools and resources and currently has over 1100 registered users from over 100 different countries and hosts thousands of visitors each month. The VIEWS team also develops and maintains the IMPROVE website, the WRAP Technical Support System (TSS), and the Air Toxics Data Archive (ATDA), all of which utilize the foundational database and software architecture developed for VIEWS. Ongoing development and maintenance of VIEWS is conducted by Colorado State University's Cooperative Institute for Research in the Atmosphere (CIRA) in Fort Collins, Colorado. Visitors to VIEWS are encouraged to register and provide comments, questions, and feedback to the VIEWS team regarding all aspects of the website and database.
Some VIEWS Facts and Statisitcs
  • Over 1500 users currently registered
  • Over 500 organizations represented
  • Visited by users from over 100 countries
  • Between 300 and 500 unique visits per day
  • Linked to by over 200 sites
  • Over 250 million records of air quality data
  • Contains data from over three dozen networks
  • An average of ~1000 database queries per month
  • Awarded the CIRA Research Initiative Award

Integrated Database

VIEWS 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 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.

Decision Support

VIEWS users are typically asking questions of “What pollutants are impacting a given area?” and “Where are these pollutants coming from?” States are further mandated to answer the question of “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, and these plans must provide for an improvement during the 20% worst visibility days while also ensuring no degradation during the 20% best visibility days. To accomplish this, users 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 make decisions about what controls to implement, to estimate projected improvements, and to 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.
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