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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.

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.
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).