ATS department ESS department

Research - Global Air Quality

Click here for Particulate Matter Air Quality Forecast

With rising human population and an increasingly urbanized world, air quality continues to degrade significantly. While developed countries continue to invest in newer technologies to reduce pollution, the developing countries face a serious problem of air pollution related illnesses and deaths.

There are not enough ground-based air quality networks to monitor, let alone forecast next day air quality and therefore satellite remote sensing will be the only viable option to monitor global air quality.

Our group is dedicated towards using satellite technologies to monitor global air pollution. We use all available data sets to first provide a quantitative measure of air quality in urban areas and use several other approaches including modeling and neural networks to forecast particulate matter air quality.

 In 1880 London was the only city with a population greater than 1 million. Today there are 281 cities exceeding 1 million populations. Urbanization has brought increased stress not only on resources but on air quality.

Pollution from one country reaches other countries changing visibility, air quality and climate. A concerted international framework is necessary to address these issues to improve global air quality for the entire human population.

Further details
Gupta, P., S.A. Christopher, J. Wang, R. Gehrig, Y.C. Lee, N. Kumar, Satellite Remote Sensing of Particulate Matter and Air Quality over Global Cities, Atmospheric Environment, 40, 5880-5892, 2006. (pdf file).

Particular matter (PM), or aerosol, is the general term used for a mixture of solid particles and liquid droplets found in the atmosphere.  Monitoring natural (dust and volcanic ash) and anthropogenic aerosols (biomass burning smoke, industrial pollution) has gained renewed attention because they influence cloud properties, alter the radiation budget of the earth-atmosphere system, affect atmospheric circulation patterns and cause changes in  surface temperature and precipitation .  Aerosols also reduce visibility and induce respiratory diseases when sub-micron sized aerosols penetrate the lungs thereby affecting air quality and health.  Increased exposure to particular matter with aerodynamic diameters less than 2.5μm (PM2.5) can cause lung and respiratory diseases and even premature death.  The Environment Protection Agency (EPA) evaluates daily air quality based on the ratio between 24-hour averages of the measured dry particulate mass with the National Ambient Air Quality Standard (NAAQS).  The ratio (expressed as a percent of NAAQS) is called air quality index (AQI) and can range from nearly zero in a very clean atmosphere to about 500 in very hazy conditions