Zee Media Bureau
New Delhi: In a major breakthrough, NASA scientists have spotted 39 unreported sources of air pollution by making use of a new satellite-based method.
These human-made sources are said to be of toxic sulphur dioxide emissions.
The unreported emission sources, found in the analysis of satellite data from 2005 to 2014, are clusters of coal-burning power plants, smelters, oil and gas operations found notably in the Middle East, but also in Mexico and parts of Russia.
In addition, reported emissions from known sources in these regions were -- in some cases -- two to three times lower than satellite-based estimates.
Altogether, the unreported and underreported sources account for about 12 percent of all human-made emissions of sulphur dioxide - a discrepancy that can have a large impact on regional air quality, said lead author of the study Chris McLinden, atmospheric scientist with Environment and Climate Change Canada in Toronto.
Sulphur dioxide (SO2) is a known health hazard and contributor to acid rain.
Current, sulphur dioxide monitoring activities include the use of emission inventories that are derived from ground-based measurements and factors, such as fuel usage.
"We now have an independent measurement of these emission sources that does not rely on what was known or thought known," McLinden noted.
"When you look at a satellite picture of sulphur dioxide, you end up with it appearing as hotspots - bull's-eyes, in effect -- which makes the estimates of emissions easier," he said.
(With IANS inputs)