Satellite

Satellite

Armed with a decade’s worth of satellite data, University of Illinois atmospheric scientists have documented some surprising trends in aerosol pollution concentration, distribution and composition over the Indian subcontinent. In addition to environmental impact, aerosol pollution, or tiny particles suspended in the air, can be detrimental to human health by causing a range of respiratory problems. Aerosols can come from natural sources, such as dust and pollen carried on the wind, but the most hazardous aerosols are generated by human activity – soot and other hydrocarbons released from burning various fuels, for example.

“The man-made aerosols tend to have a nastier effect on human health,” said Larry Di Girolamo, a professor of atmospheric sciences at U. of I. “Once we have a handle on how much, and the factors that influence the amount of aerosols that can build up, we can propose emission regulations.”

Aerosol pollution levels can be measured on the ground, but only the most developed countries have widespread sensor data. Standard satellite imaging cannot measure aerosols over land, so Di Girolamo worked with NASA to develop the Multi-angle Imaging Spectro-Radiometer (MISR).

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