Using environmental data in aviation accidents

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Using environmental data in aviation accidents

by may14 » Wed Dec 01, 2021 10:53 am America/New_York

I wondered if anyone with a background in atmospheric environmental data has any thoughts on the reliability of using atmospheric anomalies, detected by polar-orbiting satellites, in locating impact areas for air/sea accidents. Pages 3-6 of a recent report into the disappearance of MH370 highlight six atmospheric anomalies, including carbon monoxide, aerosol, sulphur dioxide and methane, being used to suggest the presence of a plane / location of a crash:

Is it possible to verify this data somehow, or see how it stands up - does this look too much like joining up dots, or might there be something in this? I just wondered what people thought about it as a reliable method to locate lost air/sea vessels, in combination with other data; pinpointing atmospheric anomalies as compelling evidence to start a new search.


ASDC - joseph.f.koch
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Re: Using environmental data in aviation accidents

by ASDC - joseph.f.koch » Mon Dec 13, 2021 8:36 pm America/New_York


Although the NASA Atmospheric Science Data Center (ASDC) does not have the expertise to weigh in on this subject, we may be able to offer some data of interest that could be used for research such as this.

ASDC projects focus on Earth science disciplines related to the Earth's radiation budget, clouds, aerosols, and tropospheric composition. Several of the satellite mission data records archived at the ASDC contain the atmospheric anomalies you have listed (carbon monoxide, aerosols, sulphur dioxide, and methane) and may serve useful in answering some of your questions.

You can browse all of the publicly available data at the ASDC on the data center's website at

Specifically, you may find the CALIPSO, MISR, MOPITT, SAGE, and TES mission datasets of interest and use.

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