Remote sensing of ground level particulate matter concentrations

Author Identifier

Miles Sowden
ORCID: 0000‐0003‐4920‐4680

Document Type

Journal Article


School of Science


Sowden, M; Mueller, U and Blake, D. (2018). Remote sensing of ground level particulate matter concentrations [online]. Air Quality and Climate Change, 52(4).13-[17].


Sparse monitoring of dust events in regional areas hinders a full understanding of health impacts from events such as wildfires and dust storm. Remote sensing has the potential to improve this understanding but has not been widely embraced due to temporal limitations inherent in the MODIS satellites which are unable to detect sporadic events reliably. Recently launched second-generation geostationary satellites such as Himawari-8 (July 2015, Asia and Oceania) and GOES-R (Dec 2016, North America) supply sub-hourly data which overcome earlier temporal limitations.

This review evaluates the ability of remote sensing to detect ground-level particulate matter concentrations particularly in light of geostationary satellites. It has concluded that there is a requirement to discard the visible portion of the wavelength spectrum and utilise thermal infrared absorption spectra in order to provide near-continuous estimates of surface concentration. This will require a better understanding of dust indices, using all available thermal infrared wavelength channels to determine the effects of moisture, particle size and composition on spectral properties.

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