Three years of TROPOMI measurements

#Copernicus, #Sentinel, #Air pollution

Published on 21 April 2021

With an ever-growing world population, and the ongoing increase in energy consumption, the effects of human activity on the natural environment have never been more relevant. In order to understand and mitigate the resulting problems, such as atmospheric pollution and climate change, the whole Earth system (land, oceans, atmosphere and the interactions between them) needs to be carefully monitored. 

Long time series of observations from ground and space help scientists to understand the physical and chemical processes and to discriminate between natural and anthropogenic contributions to the observed changes in air quality and the climate. It is in this light that the European Commission has developed the Copernicus Earth Observation programme. It involves the development and operation of monitoring networks from ground and space and aims at open access to all resulting information.

One of the components of Copernicus is a series of satellites to monitor different aspects of our planet. This “Sentinel” series is developed by the European Space Agency (ESA). Within this programme, Sentinel-5 Precursor (S-5P) is the first mission for the monitoring of atmospheric composition. It carries a single instrument, the Tropospheric Monitoring Instrument (TROPOMI). After its launch in October 2017, scientists quickly noticed that the quality of the measurements exceeded expectations and since, after three years of operational delivery of high quality observations, many spectacular results have seen the light that have further improved our understanding of the composition of the Earth’s atmosphere.

TROPOMI measures a range of chemical species crucial to the climate and other atmospheric processes, of the entire globe every 24 hours, at an unprecedented scale of detail.

April 18, 2021, marks the third anniversary of the start of the operational dissemination of TROPOMI data. Scientists at the Royal Belgian Institute for Space Aeronomy (BIRA-IASB) have been closely involved in the analysis of the data and the techniques behind it, as well as in the quality control and scientific exploitation of the measurements. Enthusiastic about the results, they want to take this opportunity of “Three years TROPOMI” to provide more information about this satellite mission and to share their most appealing results..

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