Report from EGU 2017

This week I’m in Vienna at the EGU (European Geosciences Union) General Assembly. It is the largest European gathering of scientists in the field of geosciences. Tomorrow I’ll give a talk about mapping anthropogenic CO2 emission areas using satellite-based observations. CO2 (carbon dioxide) is the most important anthropogenic greenhouse gas and it’s produced mostly by fossil fuel combustion.
Our main finding was that satellite-based CO2 measurements alone can provide information about the areas where most of the atmospheric CO2 is produced. Satellite observations have revolutionised the way we monitor air pollution, for example providing very detailed maps of nitrogen dioxide (NO2), as I showed in my previous posts. Because of its long lifetime (many years), deriving information on the CO2 emission areas is not as simple, as CO2 gets transported far from its source. We developed a simple methodology to derive the CO2 anomalies and their spatial distribution. Look for example at the picture from the Middle-East region: we can spot oil extraction areas in Iraq and Saudi Arabia as well as isolated cities, such as Kairo, Riyadh, Mecca, Tehran and the state of Qatar.
Map of CO2 anomalies over the Middle-East derived from NASA’s OCO-2 measurements.
In this study we analysed the atmospheric CO2 concentrations measured by the NASA’s OCO-2 (Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2) instrument (available since September 2014). The results open new possibilities for monitoring anthropogenic CO2 from space. Further studies and new instruments will provide new insight on greenhouse gas monitoring and climate research. In the future, we might be able to verify the changes in the anthropogenic CO2 emissions and the effect of climate change mitigation actions.
If you are interested in the topic, you can have a look at the scientific paper by Hakkarainen et al. (2016):

Satellite-data goes Sodankylä

ILMApilot results featured in the expanded Arctic Space Center opening.

Last week we celebrated the opening of the expanded Arctic Space Center at the Finnish Meteorological Institute in Sodankylä and the inauguration of a new reception antenna. This extends the capability to receive atmospheric and surface data from several satellites and enable various applications based on such information. The event included the contribution from several speakers and our OMI (Ozone Monitoring Instrument) work got a really nice shout-out by the KNMI general manager. You can watch the full event here. The event happens on the same year Finland celebrates its 100th birthday and starts the chairmanship of the Arctic Council.

Comparison of air quality levels over Helsinki area during 2005 and 2016. Red color corresponds to higher pollution levels, while yellow-green color to lower pollution levels.

In concomitance with this event, the FMI communication office developed a video collecting examples of satellite expertise at FMI. We had the opportunity to contribute with some results from ILMApilot project. Starting at minute 2:10 of the video you can find several atmospheric monitoring maps. One example is shown in the picture above where the pollution maps (based on OMI NO2 observations) show the air quality improvement observed in the last 12 years over Helsinki area. The area with the highest pollution levels (red color) observed in 2005 becomes sensibly smaller (yellow-green color) in 2016.

ILMApilot aims at improving the use of satellite-based observations in applications serving the Finnish society. Similar maps as shown in the picture above have been used for example by HSY (Helsinki Region Environmental Services Authority) in their yearly air quality report as background information. Satellite-based observations were rarely used in such services before!

Let’s keep in touch for more updates on atmospheric satellite-data applications.