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Air quality

Examples of BIRA-IASB implications in air quality studies

Satellite data and modeling estimates of air pollutant emissions

Beijing Smog in 2008BIRA-IASB has also developed advanced methods to make the most of the satellite observations of the chemical compounds involved in atmospheric air pollution.

In particular, tropospheric chemical models (i.e., mathematical/numerical representations of the troposphere composition) have been created to determine the influence of the natural and anthropogenic emissions (i.e., produced by human activities) of key pollutants, such as nitrogen oxides (NOx) and hydrocarbons.

These compounds are the main cause of photochemical smog; however, their emissions are still poorly known. Therefore, we used our global model of tropospheric chemistry in combination with satellite measurements in order to provide better emission estimates.

Image above: smog in Beijing 2008, credits Sprol.


For example, we were able to evaluate, based on a series of satellite NO2 measures, the increase of nitrogen oxides anthropogenic emissions in China during the 1997-2006 period (about 10% each year), and their decrease due to control measures in North America and, to a lesser extent, in Europe (see below).

Anthropogenic emissions of NOx

Evolution of anthropogenic emissions of NOx between 1997 and 2006. The dotted lines represent the emission inventories used in models, whereas the continuous lines represent the emissions derived from satellite data (instruments GOME and SCIAMACHY onboard the European satellites ERS2 and ENVISAT).


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