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: Volcanoes cause climate gas concentrations to vary

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

Magnitude-7.2 earthquake shakes Mexican capital

23 hours ago

A powerful magnitude-7.2 earthquake shook central and southern Mexico on Friday, sending panicked people into the streets. Some walls cracked and fell, but there were no reports of major damage or casualties.

User comments : 0

More news stories

Magnitude-7.2 earthquake shakes Mexican capital

A powerful magnitude-7.2 earthquake shook central and southern Mexico on Friday, sending panicked people into the streets. Some walls cracked and fell, but there were no reports of major damage or casualties.

China says massive area of its soil polluted

A huge area of China's soil covering more than twice the size of Spain is estimated to be polluted, the government said Thursday, announcing findings of a survey previously kept secret.

Airbnb rental site raises $450 mn

Online lodging listings website Airbnb inked a $450 million funding deal with investors led by TPG, a source close to the matter said Friday.

Health care site flagged in Heartbleed review

People with accounts on the enrollment website for President Barack Obama's signature health care law are being told to change their passwords following an administration-wide review of the government's vulnerability to the ...