EarthSense Systems, a joint venture between aerial mapping company Bluesky and the University of Leicester, has published MappAir, the ever high-resolution nationwide map of air pollution in the UK.
Combining data from satellites and its own air quality monitoring sensors, together with open source data, EarthSense has used complex modeling techniques to create the highly accurate map. Initially available for the whole of the UK at 100m (328ft) resolution, MappAir shows how air pollution, specifically nitrogen dioxide (NO2), changes across the country and within towns and cities, highlighting likely sources and potential clean-air refuge areas. With the UK government recently outlining its plans to tackle climate change, accurate map based data, such as the MappAir products, is designed for a wide range of applications. These include local planning, enforcement, and mitigation strategies, such as the establishment of clean air zones and traffic restrictions.
Using the British National Grid, EarthSense has divided the UK into 100m 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. 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 (3ft) dataset for detailed study areas, a 10m map for urban areas, a 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 (particulate matter smaller than 2.5 micrometers) later in 2017.
“Air pollution is making headlines across the world for all the wrong reasons,” commented James Eddy, EarthSense’s managing director. “However, there simply isn’t enough data available for those charged with tackling the issue to make informed decisions. MappAir can provide a street-view to city-wide visualization of air pollution, and is the first in a series of nationwide products that are coming to market in the next year. 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 the morning rush hour to the afternoon school run, and from weekday commutes to the weekend.”