The system, presented by the IST project ICAROS-NET at a workshop in Budapest on 27 June, combines atmospheric information from satellite-borne sensors, measurements from the ground and results from computer models. Together this data provides comprehensive information on the spatial distribution and concentration of particulate matter in the lower atmosphere.
Early results from four pilot trials currently taking place in Athens, Milan, Munich and Budapest indicate that the 'ICAROS-NET' technique is as accurate as land-based models in monitoring the concentration of harmful ultra-fine particles in the air caused by heavy industry, traffic and heating systems, and provides better environmental information. The analysis of the first experimental campaign in Athens revealed that results were over 90 per cent accurate compared with air pollution measurements from the ground.
ICAROS-NET allows the quantitative evaluation and mapping of risks to health by measuring the proportion of light scattered by particulate matter. Sensors monitor atmospheric pollutions in areas as small as 30 metres in diameter and this information is combined with data drawn from epidemiological studies on the expected health effects of pollution.
The developed computational tool is flexible enough to be used at urban, regional and cross-border levels. The availability of such data could help to shape future environmental policies and improve assessments of existing policies aimed at reducing pollution.
"If we are to improve environmental and health policy-making in the EU, we need precise and accurate air pollution data. Monitoring air pollution is a good illustration of what space technology can do for citizens and provides an additional argument to boost EU investments in space," says European Research Commissioner Philippe Busquin.
Joint Research Centre (JRC)
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Source: Based on a Commission press release