New UK-wide map of air pollution; insights into nitrogen dioxide levels across the country and within towns and cities
EarthSense Systems—a joint venture between the University of Leicester and aerial mapping company BlueSky—has MappAir, the first high resolution nationwide map of air pollution.
Combining data from satellites and its own air quality monitoring sensors together with open source data, EarthSense used complex modeling techniques to create the highly accurate map. Initially available for the whole of the UK at 100-meter resolution, MappAir shows how air pollution, specifically nitrogen dioxide, changes across the country and within towns and cities, highlighting likely sources and potential clean-air refuge areas.
Using the British National Grid, EarthSense divided the UK into 100 meter squares. Air pollution readings from satellites and its own Zephyr air quality monitoring sensors were combined with open data, including traffic emissions and weather conditions, to produce an annual average for each cell. The MappAir data is available to view and purchase online at .
As additional sensors come online and more historical data is made available, EarthSense plans to produce a range of MappAir products, including an ultra-high resolution 1m dataset for detailed study areas, a 10m map for urban areas, an historic time series of maps showing how air pollution changes over the course of a day and on different days, and forecast maps giving an indication of fluctuations up to three days ahead. EarthSense will also be releasing a map of PM2.5 (ultrafine pollution particles smaller than 2.5 micrometers) later in 2017.
Air pollution is not a constant threat. Not only does it differ from location to location, as MappAir clearly shows, but it also changes from morning rush hour to afternoon school run, and from week day commutes to weekend leisure pursuits. This is why we are already working on the next products in the MappAir range, including near real time altering maps and forecast maps.—James Eddy, Managing Director of EarthSense Systems
Accurate map based data such as the MappAir products are designed for a wide range of applications. These include local planning, enforcement and mitigation strategies, as well as commercial applications such as conveyancing and health diagnostics.
EarthSense has already undertaken a range of air quality monitoring projects, including trials of an airborne air quality mapper, air pollution monitoring equipment on a rocket, and mobile mapping with air quality sensors mounted in electric cars. Future plans include the establishment of a nationwide network of air quality monitoring sensors, feeding live data for up to the minute air quality predictions.