Met Office launches Sahara dust haze index, air-quality forecast measure

File photo/Jeff K Mayers
File photo/Jeff K Mayers

PEOPLE affected by allergies because of poor air quality can now monitor and prepare for it better with the new Sahara dust haze index and air-quality index forecast updates from the TT Meteorological Service.

In a media release on Friday, the Met Office said the two new online pages were interactive to some degree and provided warning information about potential hazardous air pollution conditions that can degrade air quality.

“These new warning systems can assist people to plan their day-to-day activities and mitigate impacts, such as flaring of allergies, when the air quality becomes poor or degraded. “

The seven-day Sahara dust haze index forecast provides a dust-risk level forecast for each day and users hovering over the plumes icons can see the maximum dust concentration value for that day.

The Met Office said the data is updated every three hours over a seven-day period and the page also has metadata, a legend and suggested actions for easy navigation.

The air-quality forecast functions the same way but is based on the forecast maximum concentration of particulate matter 2.5 over a 24-hour period.

The Met Office explained, “These new pages are based on model forecast output only and do not consider localised sources of dust or particulate matter from industrial emissions, bush fires, traffic emissions, and other local secondary dust or particulate matter sources, and therefore may not always match local observed levels.

“Sahara dust has become a serious local concern in recent times due to the increase in frequency of dust haze days and its significant impact on human health, the environment, and socio-economic well-being.”

This was the peak of the Sahara dust season, it said, encouraging stakeholders in the health sector and people with existing respiratory and other dust-sensitive ailments to use the products.

The products are accessible at http://www.metoffice.gov.tt/forecast and feedback on them can be sent to metcommunications@gov.tt

The Met Office said the warning systems were developed in collaboration with the Caribbean Institute for Meteorology and Hydrology (CIMH) at the request of the public health sector and were also designed in accordance with World Health Organization and World Meteorological Organisation standards and guidelines.

These products were launched during the fourteenth National Climate Outlook Forum, which was hosted virtually on May 17, the Met Office said.

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