Researchers at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) and other institutions have pinpointed the locations of high concentrations of air pollutants around the world by combining data from four satellite imaging systems. Their findings are being presented this week in San Francisco at the annual meeting of the American Geophysical Union (AGU).
The researchers used information from instruments on NASA and European Space Agency satellites to measure atmospheric levels of three types of pollutants that can affect human health: carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide, and aerosols. They found especially high concentrations of each over the eastern United States, western and southern Europe, and eastern China, which are among the most heavily industrialized regions in the world.
Steven Massie, an atmospheric chemist at NCAR on the data analysis team, says such satellite images of air pollutants are important for efforts to improve air quality. "As the capability of these imaging systems becomes more and more powerful, the international community will have a way of studying pollution on a global basis and the technical means to monitor emissions from each country,” he explains.
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