Argonne researchers like Streets are part of an endeavor that tracks emissions from around the world to assess the impact of human activities on the atmosphere, particularly in the generation and use of energy. Air pollution involves many different compounds. The U.S. government actively tracks several, including particulate matter like black carbon, ozone, sulfur dioxide, carbon monoxide, and nitrogen dioxide, and contributes to government recordkeeping of air pollution inventories.
Keeping tabs on air pollution involves an understanding of a myriad of factors: how many pollutants are produced, where, when, how long they persist in the environment, how long they remain detectable, where they end up, and how different sources of pollution combine. The most useful data is collected frequently enough to be effective in shaping policies and making predictions.
The research in India, for example, was able to compile a year-to-year view of events using satellite data. With more complete and recent data, the researchers not only discovered the overall increase of SO2, but were also able to make a specific recommendation: move the monitors closer to the plants where chemicals can be detected before they dissipate. Elevated SO2 can only be identified within about 30 miles of the factory. Beyond that distance, the SO2 persists, but the signal-to-noise ratio is too high to detect its presence.
Streets and his coworkers are working to get the most out of satellite data. By using several passes of satellite data coverage, they can re-aggregate the pixels of information, and go from low- to high-resolution images.
Downloading data of daily satellite passes permits more recent glimpses of events than the infrequent processing of monitors located on the ground. Ground monitors are sparsely distributed and expensive to maintain compared to satellite surveillance from space.
|Contact: Jared Sagoff|
DOE/Argonne National Laboratory