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Global air pollution maps now available

Expert Contributions 6 Nov - 09:48 SAST

Global air pollution maps now available

Expert Contributions 6 Nov - 09:48 SAST

Information from ESA

A new online platform for tracking of air pollution worldwide is now available to the public. The maps, which use data from the Copernicus Sentinel-5P satellite, show the averaged nitrogen dioxide concentrations using a 14-day moving average. The maps not only show changes over time on a global scale, but provide the possibility for users to zoom in to areas of interest, such as a city or region. 

The averaged maps also reflect the effects of the Covid-19 lockdown, with drastic reductions of nitrogen dioxide concentrations visible over many areas. Nitrogen dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere vary widely on a day-to-day basis owing to the fluctuations of emissions, as well as variations in weather conditions such as sunlight, temperature and wind, all of which can affect the lifetime of the gas in the atmosphere. For these reasons, it is necessary to analyse data over a substantial period of time – in this case 14 days – as it allows for the accurate mapping and analysis of nitrogen dioxide concentrations across the globe.

The Copernicus Sentinel-5P satellite was launched in 2017 to map a multitude of air pollutants around the globe. The satellite carries the Tropomi instrument that detects the unique fingerprint of atmospheric gases to image air pollutants more accurately and at a higher spatial resolution than ever before.

The mapping portal is part of the Sentinel-5P Product Algorithm Laboratory (S5P-PAL), an ongoing project funded by the European Commission. New mapping portals for the carbon monoxide product and additional functionalities, for example the selection of an area and time-period to investigate time-series of measurements, are currently in development.

The mapping portal is available here: https://maps.s5p-pal.com/