Innovative drone test to track air pollution

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The Cyprus Institute conducted an innovative drone campaign to measure the concentration of black carbon (BC) emitted in Nicosia to track air quality better.

The campaign took place at Athalassa Park in Nicosia to capture the vertical dispersion of pollution from the surface to an altitude of 1,000 metres.

The Institute said the location is downwind of Nicosia and allowed for the better capture of a pollution mix representative of the city.

Data will be used to define the constraints on chemistry transport models developed by the Climate and Atmosphere Research Centre (CARE-C) for predicting air quality in Cyprus.

Black carbon, also known as soot, is made of fine particles generated by inefficient combustion, and it is thought to be increasingly linked to heart and lung diseases.

It plays a substantial role in warming the atmosphere.

Traffic emissions, especially from diesel vehicle exhaust and domestic fireplaces, can emit black carbon.

The researchers used a high-performance multi-copter Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV).

A novel, miniaturized sensor called an aethalometer was integrated into the UAV.

This sensor enables the detection and quantification of BC emitted by road vehicles and domestic heating.

A dense profiling of the atmosphere was performed with 17 flights to capture the evolution throughout the day, including the morning traffic peak and the evening wood combustion.

“This experiment was an innovative method to infer the concentration of pollutants at the surface (where it is routinely monitored) and at higher altitudes.

“Regular monitoring of pollutant levels in the upper atmosphere will contribute to a better understanding of the island’s air quality, thus helping policy-makers design sound environmental regulations,” said the Institute.