Compute Scotland

Symbiotic air quality radar and software measurement

  • 19 Jul 2010
  • 20
A team from the Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd, with the University of Leicester and EADS Astrium are behind the technology that can be placed on satellites to provide unprecedented detail of gases in the atmosphere. The researchers are also developing ground-based instruments this year, which will be able to create 3D maps of atmospheric gases. While in Spain livewires at the University of Madrid, have developed a very sophisticated tool (internet JAVA/OPANA) that estimates the impact of air quality on the health of citizens using last generation models.

Professor Paul Monks (right) from the University of Leicester is one of the project leaders of the Compact Air Quality Spectrometer (CompAQS), a CEOI project to develop a compact imaging spectrometer operating in the ultra violet and visible (UV/VIS) part of the spectrum, with a number of potential applications on satellite platforms.

The technology developed is now being adapted, through the NERC knowledge exchange funding into the CityScan project, to enable the quality of the air to be easily and continuously monitored across physically large urban and industrial spaces.
Monks said: “The instrument has been developed for potential deployment as a small satellite payload and provides the performance of current, comparable instruments, which are significantly larger in size. Its compact size, achieved through the use of a novel optical design, means that the costs of manufacture, platform development and launch can be minimised
“There is now overwhelming consensus that poor air quality impacts on human health.  The World Health Organization has estimated that 2.4m people die each year from causes directly attributable to air pollution, with 1.5m of these attributable to indoor air pollution.   Population exposure to increased levels of gases and particulates requires action by public authorities at the national, regional and international levels.
“Measurements of atmospheric composition and quality are important to both the long term monitoring and control of human and naturally occurring emissions and the shorter term effects on human health. There is an increasing need for data to be collected, on a long term basis, in more detail, over larger areas and with higher levels of consistency with the CEOI playing a key role in meeting this challenge.”
During 2009 two new CompAQS instruments are being constructed and configured for use as a ground-based Differential Optical Absorption Spectroscopy (DOAS) system by the University of Leicester, in collaboration with partners at Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd. These instruments will operate in the visible wavelength region to enable virtually real-time, 3D maps of atmospheric gases such as nitrogen dioxide to be constructed with five-minute time resolution. 
(Left) Each pollution radar draws on cutting edge UK technologies in many areas of design. (Acknowledgement: Christopher Whyte - Designer)

This is achieved by the simultaneous analysis of scattered solar UV/Visible radiation from multiple instruments and multi viewing geometries, giving an unprecedented level of information on the dynamics and composition of the urban environment.
The CityScan instrument will have significant advantages over currently available air quality monitors providing a continuous monitoring technique for an entire urban area. Each system is envisaged to provide coverage of areas of some 25 km2 and to undertake real-time monitoring of nitrogen dioxide and aerosol at a spatial resolution of 50m.  Effectively, acting like a pollution radar.
CityScan will enable the collection of unique air quality monitoring datasets with the potential to open up new areas in emission monitoring, pollution measurement and air quality control. Such measurements need high performance spectrometer and detector systems, sharing a number of key development demands with satellite instrumentation. This technology is therefore a natural spin-out avenue for space-borne spectrometer developments, with advances made in CityScan being fed back to the UK space industry via the project partners.

The technologies have emerged from the UK’s Centre for Earth Observation Instrumentation (CEOI)  actively engaged in the development of novel Earth observation instrumentation acting as a catalyst for the development of technologies for environmental monitoring from space. It is jointly supported via the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) and Department of Innovation, Universities and Skills (DIUS).

Madrid OPAN sophisticated air quality models

European Operational Air Quality forecasts: MM5-CMAQ-EMIMO by Universidad Politécnica de Madrid (UPM)  11-03-2009 TO 15-03-2009 UPDATED: March 12 2009 05:49:36.GMI on the mpact of an industrial contamination source displaying the increments and reductions on the concentration. Source University of Madrid

Air quality models have achieved a great degree of sophistication over the last few years thanks mainly to scientific and computational advances. These are tools that simulate the dynamics of the atmosphere and estimate the impact of particular sources of contamination such as industries or traffic on air quality so that plans and decisions can then be made according to the produced results.

The Grupo de Modelos y Software para el medio Ambiente of the Facultad de Informática at the Universidad Politécnica de Madrid has developed a very sophisticated tool (OPANA) that estimates the impact of air quality on the health of citizens using last generation models.

The tool is based on highly advanced numerical methods to produce extremely precise measurements of the concentration of a certain atmospheric contaminant that a person breathes, in a determined time and place, from a particular source ( industry, incinerator, a motorway, etc). It is possible then to determine the consequent impact under any circumstances or distance from the source thanks to the enormous calculating power available.

In order to ensure that the results are reliable, it is necessary to introduce accurate data into the tool. The tool requires detailed information about the topography of the site under study, the different uses of land obtained through remote sensing, meteorological information, relevant information about the surroundings of the area under study, and above all an accurate estimate of the emissions that occur in the area and its surroundings.

With these tools, it is possible to evaluate the impact that a new industry would have on the atmospheric contamination of an area and carry out experiments using different scenarios to be compared against the current conditions. In this way, the best decisions can be made to protect the health of inhabitants of the area.

Sources: Leicester University: Professor Paul Monks
University of Madrid

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