January pollution from China and Southeast Asia
Image courtesy the NCAR MOPITT team.
Bush fires in southeastern Australia
Image courtesy the NCAR MOPITT team
A visualization of satellite data captured and processed January 1–20, 2003, by scientists at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) shows heavy pollution from China and Southeast Asia blowing out over the Pacific Ocean. The near-real time capability represented by the image is a breakthrough for NCAR team members working with the Measurements of Pollution in the Troposphere (MOPITT) instrument aboard NASA’s Terra satellite.
The image shows levels of carbon monoxide (CO) in a region where pollution tends to begin increasing around January and continue rising through the spring. The sources include emissions from motor vehicles and industrial activities, the burning of wood and other vegetation for heat, and fires set to clear land for agriculture. Scientists are using satellite measurements along with data gathered in field campaigns to begin to untangle the different pollution sources.
In a second image, pollution from bush fires burning in southeast Australia is clearly visible. The data were captured above the fires January 15–20. The image shows levels of CO released by the fires. Because CO persists in the atmosphere for several weeks, it can be used to trace the path of pollution plumes above the fires as the plumes drift out thousands of miles into the usually pristine air over the southern Pacific Ocean.
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