Welcome to Air Quality Awareness Week! All week long, the Kentucky Division for Air Quality will share daily emails about the air we breathe. Stay tuned for an amazing video on Friday that reveals the hidden world of air pollution like you’ve never seen before!
TODAY: Air Quality Improvements Visible from Space – scroll down to see it!
In the past few decades, emissions of sulfur dioxide and nitrogen dioxide have plummeted across the Commonwealth. To achieve these reductions, Kentucky power plants have invested billions of dollars in state-of-the-art pollution control equipment. And thanks to a special monitoring instrument aboard NASA’s Aura satellite, the resulting air quality improvements are visible – even from space!
Check out this NASA image of the Ohio River Valley in 2005. The red areas are emissions of nitrogen dioxide. Nitrogen dioxide is emitted from cars, power plants and other sources that burn fossil fuels. Nitrogen dioxide is a key ingredient of ground-level ozone, a major pollutant that causes urban smog and respiratory problems. According to NASA, nitrogen dioxide hotspots are used as a general indicator of air quality and occur over most major cities in developed and developing nations.
Just nine years later, nitrogen dioxide levels had dropped dramatically in satellite images of the same area:
Courtesy of Roberta Burnes, Policy Analyst III, and all the dedicated folks at Kentucky Division of Air Quality