A 3D aerosol and visibility information system for urban areas using remote sensing and GIS

Janet Elizabeth Nichol, Man Sing Wong, Jingzhi Wang

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)


Currently, the depiction of urban air quality at boundary layer scale uses modelled climatic and land cover data. However, such models are difficult to verify, and only low to moderate accuracy may be achieved due to the complexity of the input data required and the reliance on assumptions about dispersion patterns. The provision of comprehensive air quality data to urban residents in city districts, at a level of detail commensurate with other Location-Based Services (LBS) which are time- and place-sensitive, has therefore not been possible. A method for urban air quality monitoring over cities at boundary layer scale, other than by the use of air quality models is presented here. The system presented uses empirical Aerosol Optical Thickness (AOT) data in near-real time, combining AOT data from AERONET with aerosol vertical profiles computed from twice-daily MODIS satellite images at 500. m resolution, to give three dimensional (3D) air quality data over the urban landscape. There has been no previous attempt to project the horizontal spatial distribution of aerosols from satellite image pixels into a vertical dimension to give a spatially comprehensive three dimensional record of air quality. The paper describes the sources and accuracy of the AOT data input to the system as well as its storage and retrieval on a Geographic Information System (GIS) platform, to provide air quality and visibility information according to user query at any 3D geographical location, including individual buildings or building floor.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2501-2506
Number of pages6
JournalAtmospheric Environment
Issue number21-22
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2010


  • Aerosol Optical Thickness
  • GIS
  • Remote sensing
  • Visibility

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Science(all)
  • Atmospheric Science

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