Dutch to measure air pollution in detail worldwide
Scientists are delighted with the first results of the Dutch space instrument Tropomi, on board of the European satellite Sentinel-5 Precursor. It can measure air pollution like NOx or CO in unprecedented detail, everywhere in the world and pinpoint out the sources responsible for it.
“I’m very happy with the first results”, says Piternel Levelt, chief satellite observations at the Dutch meteorological institute KNMI and professor the the Technical University Delft. He was, among others, involved with the aspect of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) measuring, known to be produced by industry and diesel cars.
Fumes in rotterdam or Antwerp
“We can see the fumes in larger cities like Rotterdam and Antwerp”, Levelt says. “Resolution is twelve times better than other observation instruments, which makes it possible to identify so called ‘point sources”, director Josef Aschbacker from the ESA space organization for earth observation says.
20 million measurements a day
Because the satellite is doing 14 laps around the earth daily, the whole planet is charted every 24 hours. “With 20 million measurements a day we can predict air pollution better”, Levelt says. On top of that measurements can be done on locations where little to none measuring stations are available, like in a lot of Asian regions.
Nitrogen dioxide and coal monoxide are formed by combustion processes and are important indicators for air pollution. Because nitrogen dioxide disappears quickly, after a few hours, these new measurements can be used to trace pollution sources.
Coal monoxide resides several months within the atmosphere and is a good indicator to point out the regions with the biggest problems. “Especially in India concentrations appear to be very high and in the Italian Po Valley”, says Ilse Aben, professor and researcher at the SRON space institute that measures coal monoxide with Tropomi.