Week 1 – Our fragile atmosphere and the challenges we face

15 topics

This week introduces the important role of the Earth’s atmosphere, what the atmosphere is made up of, how we can monitor it, and the challengers it is facing.

Course overview

Welcome to ‘Monitoring Atmospheric Composition from Space’.

Course introduction from the lead educators

In this course, we will introduce you to in situ data and satellite ‘Earth observation’ (EO) technology in monitoring our atmosphere, and to the informative and critically important imagery and data it produces.

Topic 1b - Part 1: Copernicus, CAMS and Global Networks

The Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service (CAMS) is part of the Copernicus Programme. It provides the capabilities to continuously monitor the Earth Atmosphere at both global and regional scales.

Topic 1b - Part 2: Copernicus, CAMS and Global Networks - The role of satellites in CAMS

Satellite data is an important part of Copernicus and CAMS as it provides a global picture. The Earth observation satellites that provide data for Copernicus are split into two groups of missions: The Sentinel satellites and other contributing missions.

Topic 1c - Part 1: Supporting enterprise and innovative solutions - Data processing and supercomputers

Many businesses and technological innovations are increasingly responding to environmental issues, and the urgent need for sustainability, leading the world to become awash with green innovation, and renewable energy solutions.

Topic 1c – Part 2: Supporting enterprise and innovative solutions - Monitoring clean energy innovations

Helen Ltd based in Finland, produce the most efficient energy in the world. They aim to achieve 100% carbon neutrality in their energy production through their power plants in Helsinki, and currently have around 400,000 customers throughout Finland.

Topic 1c - Part 3: Supporting enterprise and innovative solutions - Other examples

In this video Paul Monks and Martin Adams will talk about some more examples of how atmospheric data supports enterprises and innovative solutions, and Iolanda Ialongo talks about how satellite measurements help with rules and regulation.

Topic 1d - Unravelling the complex structure of the Atmosphere

The atmosphere is made up of complex layers comprises of different air composition and atmospheric pressure.

Topic 1e - Climate change and the Anthropocene

The Anthropocene is the current geological age, during which human activity has become the dominant influence on climate and the environment.

Topic 1f - What we measure – overview of key parameters

Through the use of satellites and in situ data, many different elements of the atmosphere can be measured. It is important to use both satellite and in situ data so we can get as many measurements as possible.

Topic 1g - Part 1: Satellite measurements - Measuring the absorption of light in the atmosphere

There is a variety of satellites that are capable of measuring atmospheric composition, that utilise many different instruments.

Topic 1g - Part 2: Satellite measurements - Example instruments and missions

In this video John Burrows and Paul Monks go into more detail about atmospheric missions and instruments.

Course EO satellite missions table

You can use this satellite missions table to explore all of the Earth observation satellite missions that are mentioned throughout this course.

Week 1 interactive exercise and test

Week 1 end of week exercise and test

Week 2 – Pollution, air quality and health

11 topics

This week covers pollution and air quality, and the subsequent health effects.

Topic 2a - Air quality and types of atmospheric pollution

Air quality refers to the chemical composition of trace constituents close to the surface of the earth, which impact on humans. It is a global issue.

Topic 2b - Part 1: Air quality measurements - in situ instruments & validating satellite data

In situ measurements are ones that are obtained through direct contact with the respective subject.

Topic 2b - Part 2: Air quality measurements - Mobile in situ measurements

Monitoring methods can range from on the ground to planes, towers, spacecraft, or vehicles.

Topic 2c - Part 1: Street level sensing – the role of ultra-local monitoring

This topic looks at street level monitoring. Many urban areas around the world have local street level air quality monitoring.

Topic 2c - Part 2: Street level sensing - instruments & particle measurement

In this video Dr David Green goes into more detail about the street level sensors in London, and how they are used to monitor PM10 and PM2.5.

Topic 2d – Part 1: Air quality, NO2, CO & the ozone layer

Satellites can measure lots of different sources of atmospheric pollution, such as Nitrogen Dioxide, Ozone, Carbon Monoxide and Particulate Matter.

Topic 2d - Part 2 (Applications case study): NO2 models

In this video Johannes Flemming looks at a model showing Nitrogen Oxides produced from Lightning.

Topic 2e - International agreements for air quality

In order to manage the Earth’s resources and control atmospheric pollution from the local to the global scale, international agreements occur.

Topic 2f - Practical Products – City level apps for air quality and health

This topic looks at near real-time applications which can be used by the public to monitor air pollution around them.

Atmosphere Extras – Citizen science

This topic looks at citizen science, which involves members of the general public collaborating with scientists on a project.

Week 2 interactive exercise and test

Week 2 end of week interactive exercise and test

Week 3 – Large scale changes – Ozone and GHGs

10 topics

A look at GHGs and climate change, ozone and CFCs, and other types of in situ measurements including high altitude balloons and commercial aircraft

Topic 3a - Part 1: GHGs and climate change – how the data helps us understand the past and the future

This topic looks at how we monitor and model greenhouse gases, which is pivotal in the monitoring and management of climate change.

Topic 3a - Part 2: Stratospheric ozone and CFCs – Detailed insights from satellite data and models

This topic looks at the role of Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) and ozone concentrations over Antarctica.

Topic 3b - Methane models and measurements

Methane is one of the most potent greenhouse gases in Earth’s atmosphere and measurements of its atmospheric concentration are vital to the monitoring of climate change.

Topic 3c - Part 1: High altitude balloon measurements - Overview

In this topic Philippe Cocquerez will introduce you to high altitude balloon measurements of the atmosphere.

Topic 3c - Part 2: High altitude balloon measurements - In more depth

In this topic Frederic Thoumieux looks at high altitude balloon measurements in more depth.

Topic 3d - Part 1: Measurements from aircraft - overview of IAGOS

This topic looks at how commercial aircraft can be utilised for monitoring the atmosphere.

Topic 3d - Part 2: Measurements from aircraft - data examples from IAGOS

Further detail about data acquired by the IAGOS programme, with Hannah Clark.

Topic 3e - The Vienna Convention and Montreal Protocol – an exemplar for international policy

The Vienna Convention for the Protection of the Ozone Layer is a Multilateral Environmental Agreement that was agreed upon at the Vienna Conference of 1985 and entered into force in 1988.

Topic 3f - GHG monitoring and identifying sources

When studying carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere it is important to know where it is now, but it is also vital to know the sources and sinks in order to understand processes that control the amount of the greenhouse gas in the atmosphere.

Week 3 Interactive exercise and test

Week 3 end of week exercise and test

Week 4 – Long Range Pollution Transport

10 topics

This week looks at the atmospheric transport of aerosols, volcanic emissions and emissions from wildfires.

Topic 4a - Overview of Atmospheric transport

Transport of pollution in the atmosphere is caused by time-averaged wind flow.
How far air pollutants are transported mainly depends upon particle size of the compounds and the height the pollution was emitted into the air.

Topic 4b - Part 1: Monitoring aerosols with satellite data products & in situ LiDAR

In this video Seppo Hassinen talks us through AC SAF (Atmospheric Composition Satellite Application Facility), which is part of the EUMETSAT Application Ground Segment.

Topic 4b - Part 2: Tracking the transport and effects of aerosols with satellite data and models

As you saw in 4b part 1, aerosols can be emitted from natural sources, these include desert dust, volcanic ash and sea salt, or they can be emitted from anthropogenic sources, which include biomass burning, vehicle emissions, and industrial processes.

Topic 4c - Part 1: Monitoring volcanic emissions - Overview

Meteosat Third Generation (MTG) satellites will be crucial to volcanic ash monitoring, with their higher resolution imagery and new infrared sounding capabilities.

Topic 4c - Part 2: Monitoring volcanic emissions - Case studies & the role of VAACs

Volcanic Ash Advisory Centres (VAACs) have specialist forecasters who produce volcanic ash advisories and guidance products using a combination of volcano data; satellite-based, ground-based and aircraft observations; weather forecast models and dispersion models.

Topic 4d - Monitoring biomass burning and validating wildfires

Fires and biomass burning can be identified from space in real time. The ‘D-Fire’ sub project in the Copernicus programme provides global emissions from biomass burning to the public and MACC (Monitoring Atmospheric Composition & Climate) services using real time and retrospectively from satellite-based observations of open fires.

Topic 4e – Monitoring human impact on fires and enforcing policy

Wildfires have been getting worse in recent years due to human activity. In California for example, 2017 was the worst season ever for wildfires. There were a recorded 9,133 fires that burned through more than 1 million acres and killed 43 people in the state, including five of the 20 most destructive wildland-urban interface fires in the state’s history.

Topic 4f - Part 1: Practical Products – Predicting impact from aerosols, dust and fires

There are products that can be used to predict how dust and aerosols will affect solar energy. For example to help farmers re-orientate their solar panels or to help predict solar radiation levels, for management of solar energy production.

Topic 4f – Part 2: Practical products - Aerosol forecasting

There are 5 main aerosol species that are used in CAMS aerosol forecasts, these are: sea-salt, desert dust, organic matter, black carbon and sulphates.

Week 4 interactive exercise

Week 4 interactive exercise

Week 5 – Maintaining our life support system – policy and the future

8 topics

Future Copernicus missions and strategies and future innovations in satellite technology, followed by 3 practical guides.

Topic 5a - Part 1: Future Innovations - Open data and emerging data services

Copernicus provides free and open access to its data products including CAMS. Data from Copernicus is used by service providers, public authorities and other international organisations.

Topic 5a – Part 2: Future innovations - Future Copernicus missions and strategies

This topic looks at the future of Copernicus, including missions and strategies.

Topic 5b - International climate change policy, ECVs and UN COP

Earth observation data supports effective policy and decision making for climate change mitigation and adaptation.

Topic 5a - Part 3: Future innovations - Future satellite missions in depth

This topic explores future innovations and satellite missions in depth.

Topic 5c - Final course round-up

We have now come to the end of ‘Monitoring Atmospheric Composition From Space and the Ground’, congratulations on completing the course and thank you for your participation over the last five weeks.

Topic 5d - Practical guides - Part 1: Meteosat Third Generation

In this video Rosemary Munro and Jochen Grandell talk about Meteosat Third Generation satellites, which will be part of the Copernicus Programme.

Topic 5e - Practical Guide - Part 2: Downloading atmospheric composition data

In this second practical guide Mark Higgins shows you four examples of websites which can be used to get atmospheric images and data.

Topic 5f - Practical Guide - Part 3: Visualising data in NetCDF

Daniel Lee, Software & Data Format Engineer at EUMETSAT guides you through a variety of free and open software, for you to visualize NetCDF format files.