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Researchers are Using NASA Satellites to Track Air Pollution Over Major Cities
Tracking air pollution from the ground isn’t always accurate, due to the wide variation in tracking tower location and positioning. But Tel Aviv University Professor Pinhas Alpert is changing that by tapping into three of NASA’s satellites in order to track pollution in major cities from the air. It is the first effort to standardize pollution tracking in the world and it will help scientists better understand the impact of man-made pollution – and hopefully someday it will enable governments to hold cities accountable for their emissions.
Professor Alpert, along with graduate student Olga Shvainshteinand and Dr. Pavel Kishcha, has collected 8-years worth of satellite data from 189 major cities in order to track the pollution trends in those areas. These cities include over 2 million people and some cities, called megacities, have over 5 million people. Researchers used information gathered from three aerosol-monitoring satellites.
According to the researchers, China, India, Central Africa and the Middle East are currently experiencing a pollution increase, with an average increase of 34-percent. North and Central America and Europe are showing a decline in pollution, with an average of a 31-percent decrease. A few American cities showed an increase in pollution, including Portland, Oregon, but researchers believe that this is likely due to local wildfires. In the future, researchers will look for a way to filter out natural pollutants like wildfires from man-made pollutants.
By utilizing satellites, Professor Alpert hopes to get an accurate view of the world’s pollution and encourage countries who have been reluctant to provide accurate numbers in the past to take a more active role in addressing pollution. Meanwhile, cities that voluntarily address pollution could be recognized and applauded, suggests Alpert.
via Clean Technica
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