EU satellite research project tackles urban air quality from space
A three-year project led by the Commission with ten partners from Greece, Germany, Hungary and Italy has developed an innovative system for monitoring and managing urban air quality and the related health risks. Results of the “ICAROS NET” technique were presented today in Budapest. ICAROS uses satellite-borne sensors to monitor the concentration of harmful particles in the air, caused by heavy industry, traffic and household heating systems. Four pilot trials of the ICAROS NET system are under way in Athens, Milan, Munich and Budapest. It is the first time that ultra-fine pollution particles have been detected from space with such accuracy and precision. Early results from the Athens pilot project are encouraging, indicating that the system is as reliable as land-based alternatives but provides better environmental information, and that environmental policy initiatives, such as reducing sulphur in diesel and introducing fuel alternatives such as natural gas, are successful in reducing pollution levels.
European Research Commissioner Philippe Busquin said: “Fine airborne particles represent one of the biggest threats to human health from air pollution. If we are to improve environmental and health policy-making in the EU, we need precise and accurate air pollution data. Monitoring air pollution is a good illustration of what space technology can do for citizens and provides an additional argument to boost EU investments in space. This is particularly relevant in our initiative to build a European capacity for Global Monitoring for Environment and Security.”
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