MappAir — New UK-Wide, Online, High-Resolution Air Pollution Map

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A new UK-wide, online, high-resolution air pollution map known as “MappAir” has been developed and launched by EarthSense Systems, a joint-venture between the aerial mapping firm BlueSky and the University of Leicester.

The new map represents the first high-resolution union-wide map of air pollution in the UK — and provides the potential for new insights into emitters and accumulation patterns in the region.

The map utilizes a combination of satellite date, EarthSense Systems’ own air quality monitoring sensors, and open-source data — as combined through “complex modeling techniques” — to provide a “highly” accurate air quality mapping tool. As it stands, the map provides detailed data at a 100-meter resolution, with nitrogen dioxide levels throughout the UK being quantified and changing patterns clearly viewable as a result of this quantification clearly mapped.

What comes across as particularly interesting here is the ability to observe air pollution levels and patterns within specific cities and towns — allowing sources to be clearly identified and possible remediation to take place. The tool could perhaps be useful for those looking around for a new place to live, particularly if they have respiratory problems.

The Managing Director at EarthSense Systems, James Eddy, commented on the map product release: “Air pollution is not a constant threat. Not only does it differ from location to location, as MappAir clearly shows, but it also changes from morning rush hour to afternoon school run, and from week day commutes to weekend leisure pursuits. This is why we are already working on the next products in the MappAir range, including near real time altering maps and forecast maps.”

Green Car Congress provides more: “Using the British National Grid, EarthSense divided the UK into 100 meter squares. Air pollution readings from satellites and its own Zephyr air quality monitoring sensors were combined with open data, including traffic emissions and weather conditions, to produce an annual average for each cell. The MappAir data is available to view and purchase online at www.blueskymapshop.com.

“As additional sensors come online and more historical data is made available, EarthSense plans to produce a range of MappAir products, including an ultra-high resolution 1m dataset for detailed study areas, a 10m map for urban areas, an historic time series of maps showing how air pollution changes over the course of a day and on different days, and forecast maps giving an indication of fluctuations up to 3 days ahead. EarthSense will also be releasing a map of PM2.5 (ultra-fine pollution particles smaller than 2.5 micrometers) later in 2017.”

The new maps stand to possibly prove themselves useful in future studies correlating health problems with air pollution exposure, it should be noted. Such studies are of course in practice necessary to some extent … even if by this point it should probably have gotten through to most people that the air pollution problems of some regions (London in particular) are actively causing disease in their bodies and shortening their lives.

Amongst EarthSense’s plans for the future is an initiative to create a UK-wide network of air quality monitoring sensors, all providing a live data feed, which will be used to provide people with up-to-the-minute air quality reports.


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James Ayre

James Ayre's background is predominantly in geopolitics and history, but he has an obsessive interest in pretty much everything. After an early life spent in the Imperial Free City of Dortmund, James followed the river Ruhr to Cofbuokheim, where he attended the University of Astnide. And where he also briefly considered entering the coal mining business. He currently writes for a living, on a broad variety of subjects, ranging from science, to politics, to military history, to renewable energy.

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