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What is the TSS?

The Technical Support System has been developed and will be supported by the Western Regional Air Partnership (WRAP) to provide a single portal to technical data and analytical results prepared by WRAP Forums and Workgroups. The data, results, and methods displayed on the TSS are intended to support the air quality planning needs of western state and tribes, and will be maintained and updated to support both the implementation of regional haze plans and other Western air quality analysis and management needs.
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.

About the Western Regional Air Partnership (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.

TSS History and Background

The Visibility Information Exchange Web System (VIEWS) is an online decision support system developed to help federal land managers (FLMs) and states evaluate air quality and improve visibility in federally-protected ecosystems according to the stringent requirements of the EPA’s Regional Haze Rule and the National Ambient Air Quality Standards. VIEWS was recently selected by the Western Regional Air Partnership (WRAP), a collaboration of western states, tribes, and local agencies administered by the Western Governor’s Association and the National Tribal Environmental Council, to serve as the infrastructure for the WRAP’s Technical Support System (TSS). The TSS is an extended suite of analysis and planning tools designed to help planners develop long term emissions control strategies for achieving natural visibility conditions in Class I Areas by 2064. The architected combination of VIEWS and the TSS (hereafter referred to simply as the “TSS”) represents an integrated system that supports a unique synergy of national and regional air quality objectives by providing a consolidated, online system of data access and decision-making tools to planners, researchers, stakeholders, policy makers, and federal agencies nation-wide.
The TSS has been developed by the Cooperative Institute for Research in the Atmosphere (CIRA), which also operates the Data Processing Center (DPC) for NASA’s CloudSat mission and houses NOAA’s Regional and Mesoscale Meteorology Branch (RAMMB), two in-house resources that provide extensive experience and infrastructure for managing and applying a wide variety of satellite data. In addition, the TSS consolidates the data resources of the WRAP’s Emissions Data Management System (EDMS), Regional Modeling Center (RMC), and Fire Emissions Tracking System (FETS). The integrated systems approach that has been used to design the framework of the TSS allows developers to leverage and add value to these significant investments in data, analysis expertise, and information technology.
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.
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. In addition, the TSS provides tools to facilitate the ongoing tracking and assessment of the resulting emissions reductions.