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Air quality

Air pollution has a severe impact on health and environment.

Air quality instruments such as TROPOMI onboard Sentinel-5P, enable more detailed than ever detection of:

  • pollution emitters at city level
  • small-scale atmospheric effects on regional climate change
  • aviation hazards due to volcanic eruptions

In order to ensure that products delivered by satellite sensors meet user requirements in terms of accuracy, precision and fitness for purpose, BIRA-IASB developed a robust validation strategy relying on well-established and traceable reference measurements.

TROPOMI satellite in space
We are proud to present a new introductory film, in which the Royal Belgian Institute is being presented in all its facets. Discover the many fields of research and societal challenges in which the Institute is active.
Dr. Ir. Ann Carine Vandaele is the new Director General o the Royal Belgian Institute for Space Aeronomy.
On January 31, King Philippe of Belgium visited the Space Pole and the Institute for Space Aeronomy. Scientists of BIRA-IASB presented him a glimpse of our climate, air quality and ozone layer research.
Contrarily to what was claimed a few years ago in a Nature paper, formaldehyde processing by liquid clouds cannot explain the large missing source of formic acid in the Earth's atmosphere.
BIRA is working on an innovative optical system that will measure pollutant concentrations in ship plumes from a wind turbine in the North Sea.
Today, ACTRIS was established as a European Research Infrastructure Consortium for state-of-the-art data and services in atmospheric research.
An international team of researchers shows that the Nyiragongo volcano (DR Congo) eruption (22 May 2021) could not have been predicted.
Researchers from BIRA-IASB take to the skies to combat nitrogen air pollution.
The Space Pole in Uccle opens its doors to the public on September 24 and 25, 2022.
Volcanic ash and sulphur dioxide emitted by eruptions like the one currently going on with Cumbre Vieja on La Palma, are a threat to human health and aviation. Therefore, SACS warning system monitors these emissions with satellite data, and sends out warning accordingly to stakeholders.
BIRA-IASB scientists and engineers have spent several years developing and refining a portable instrument, the NO2 camera, to help us tackle the issue of air pollution, as emphasised by the UN's World Clean Air Day.
In the new BBC documentary "Greta Thunberg: A Year to Change the World", Greta engaged in conversation with scientists all over the world, including the atmosphere and climate researcher Dr. Jenny Stavrakou of the Royal Belgian Institute for Space Aeronomy.
BIRA-IASB researchers contributed to a study, lead by the ULB and the German FZJ, which finally sheds light on the formation mechanism of formic acid, a substance that has an impact on the acidity of the atmosphere and rainwater.
BIRA-IASB researchers contributed to the first global model study aimed at elucidating and quantifying the causes for the apparent paradox of increases in secondary pollutants in response to COVID-19 lockdowns.
Scientists at the Royal Belgian Institute for Space Aeronomy (BIRA-IASB) have been closely involved in the analysis of the data and the techniques behind it, as well as in the quality control and scientific exploitation of the measurements. Enthusiastic about the results, they want to take this opportunity of “Three years TROPOMI” to provide more information about this satellite mission and to share their most appealing results.
Trees emit isoprene, which strongly affects atmospheric chemistry and Earth's climate. BIRA-IASB scientists work on estimating how much isoprene is released, an important element in climate modelling and tackling climate change.
A BIRA-IASB scientist is among the 2% most cited researchers in the world, according to the Stanford international ranking. We interviewed Jean-François Müller about his life and career in scientific research.
Scientists from the Royal Belgian Institute for Space Aeronomy (BIRA-IASB) used satellite data from TROPOMI to explore the links between COVID-19 and the effects of nitrogen dioxide levels (NO2) since the beginning of the crisis until today.
BIRA-IASB published an article in Nature Geoscience, presenting the first unambiguous detection of nitrous acid (HONO) from space, revealing the existence of enhanced HONO over wildfires.
The TROPOMI satellite instrument has detected decreases in nitrogen dioxide pollution worldwide during the lockdown. In some parts of China, nitrogen dioxide pollution seems to have increased again, rising even slightly higher than previous years.
Is the sky clearer and bluer since the start of the lockdown? Where does the colour of the sky comes from?
Reality is complex. Here are a few scientific facts about air pollution and air quality. Not all kinds of air pollution will decrease.
The lockdown of various cities in the Chinese province of Hubei has an impact on air quality, clearly perceptible from space.
Space-borne and ground-based instruments can detect such fires from space, as part of the Copernicus Earth Observation programme coordinated by the European Commission.
ICOS (Integrated Carbon Observation System) label for the Maïdo station on Reunion Island for BIRA-IASB.
Space-based measurements indicate that Central Africa is a global hotspot of formaldehyde (H2CO).