Sensors in space record the big heat

As the UK endured the hottest July since records began, sensors in space have been recording increases in UK land temperature and in air pollution – particularly in major cities.


During a period of stable summer weather from 15-19 July, temperatures rose to record highs for the UK and pollution due to nitrogen dioxide (NO2) also rose considerably too.


This information comes from the latest images from two sensors, the Advanced Along Track Scanning Radiometer (AATSR) on ESA’s ENVISAT satellite and the Ozone Monitoring Instrument (OMI) on NASA’s Aura Satellite.


The AATSR data shows how temperatures in the UK rose rapidly in a few days, while the OMI results show the large increases in NO2. The results show how large cities such as London, Birmingham, Manchester and Liverpool were affected by extremes of temperature and pollution, while smaller cities such as Leicester experienced high temperatures but suffered less pollution.


Rural environments display lower temperatures and more moderate pollution levels. Since NO2 is mainly caused by road traffic and power plants, the lack of rain and wind in the stable summer weather allows significant build-up in major cities.


Dr John Remedios, head of Earth Observation Science at LeicesterUniversity, said: ‘The latest satellite data shows a perspective on the environment in which we live that can only be obtained from space.


‘The images show the temperature increase and pollution levels for every region in the UK.

‘It is particularly striking to see the extent of temperature and pollution increases in the large cities, which have such a detrimental effect on the quality of life in those locations.’