Air quality from space: Indicator of human activity

Sep 03, 2019
  • Capacity: 50
  • 10:00 AM - 12:00 PM
  • Location:
    Peter Wall Institute Seminar Room
    6331 Crescent Road
    Vancouver, BC

This event is free, but you must register to attend.

In the 19th and 20th century the chemical composition of the atmosphere changed drastically as a result of human activities, prompting Paul Crutzen to call this time period the ‘anthropogenic’ epoch. As the atmosphere continues to change, we are now able to measure its chemical composition thanks to satellite technology that maps air pollution and greenhouse gases on sub-urban scale resolution. 

Join Professor Pieternel F. Levelt, principal investigator of the OMI satellite and scientific founder of the TROPOMI satellite, for a lecture on what role the observation of atmospheric chemical composition plays in air quality and climate policy, and the research outputs of satellite measurements.

The Ozone Monitoring Instrument (OMI), launched on board of NASA’s EOS-Aura spacecraft on July 15, 2004, provides data that is currently used to improve air quality forecasts, invert high-resolution emission maps, UV forecast, and volcanic plume warning systems for aviation. The Tropospheric Monitoring Instrument (TROPOMI), which was launched on board EU/ESA’s Sentinel 5 Precursor satellite in October 2017, has a spatial resolution that is more than 12 times better than the OMI, offering unprecedented capability to measure local emissions globally from space. 

TROPOMI measures the same air pollution gases as OMI, as well as carbon monoxide and methane, the second most important greenhouse gas. TROPOMI measurements are already being used to study the wildfires in the USA and Canada, as well as emissions from the oil and gas industry. 

Prof. Levelt’s lecture will take place from 10 a.m to 11 a.m. and will be followed by a Q&A,


Pieternel F. Levelt (PhD, Free University of Amsterdam) is a professor at TU Delft, and a guest professor at NUIST University in Nanjing, China. Prof. Levelt’s scientific expertise lies in performing and interpreting satellite observations of the Earth’s atmospheric chemical composition in the context of climate change, air quality and the ozone layer. In 2018 the OMI Science team that she leads received the NASA/USGS Pecora Award.