Measuring global sulfur dioxide emissions with satellite sensors

Oct 08, 2013

Atmospheric sulfur dioxide affects the weather by enhancing cloud formation, and long-term shifts in emissions can change the climate by increasing the planetary albedo. Sulfur dioxide emissions are the basis for acid rain, and the gas itself can cause respiratory problems. Despite its importance, the difficulties associated with accurately measuring sulfur dioxide mean that rates of emissions are generally not well understood. For readings made using satellite-borne spectrometers, the signal of sulfur dioxide is often swamped by that of ozone, which absorbs radiation at similar wavelengths. Using data filtering and analysis techniques, Fioletov et al. find that observations from three different satellites are consistent and could be used to detect large sources of sulfur dioxide emissions.

Satellites have previously been used to track emissions from individual point sources, such as volcanoes or large power plants. Global assessments have proven to be more elusive. By comparing observations from ultraviolet spectrometers carried by three different satellites, the authors identified 30 strong sources of , ranging from smelters and oil refineries to factories, volcanoes, and power plants. With observations from 2004 to 2010, the authors calculated trends in emissions rates at these sites.

The development of an accurate method to remotely detect concentrations is important because otherwise scientists are reliant on reported rates, which aren't always accurately disclosed.

Explore further: Bridgmanite: World's most abundant mineral finally named

More information: Application of OMI, SCIAMACHY, and GOME-2 satellite SO2 retrievals for detection of large emission sources , Journal of Geophysical Research-Atmospheres, DOI: 10.1002/jgrd.50826, 2013 http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/jgrd.50826/abstract

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Volcanoes cause climate gas concentrations to vary

May 22, 2013

Trace gases and aerosols are major factors influencing the climate. With the help of highly complex installations, such as MIPAS on board of the ENVISAT satellite, researchers try to better understand the ...

Carnival to cut pollution from cruise ships

Sep 06, 2013

The world's largest cruise ship company will adopt technology from power plants and automobiles to reduce air pollution from the massive diesel engines powering its ships.

Recommended for you

Bridgmanite: World's most abundant mineral finally named

14 hours ago

A team of geologists in the U.S. has finally found an analyzable sample of the most abundant mineral in the world allowing them to give it a name: bridgmanite. In their paper published in the journal Science, the te ...

Volcano in south Japan erupts, disrupting flights

21 hours ago

A volcano in southern Japan is blasting out chunks of magma in the first such eruption in 22 years, causing flight cancellations and prompting warnings to stay away from its crater.

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.