Air Quality from Space

Map of the earth showing NO2 in the atmosphere
Feb. 7, 2024

5:30 – 7:00 pm MST

NSF NCAR Mesa Lab and Online

Did you know that satellites in space can track air pollution and greenhouse gases on Earth? For the past two centuries, human activity has changed the chemical makeup of our atmosphere, leading scientists to rename this period the ‘anthropogenic epoch’. As megacities continue growing throughout the world, so is air pollution. These developments will have significant effects on coming generations despite global agreements to reduce methane emissions by 30% in less than 10 years.

In her Explorer Series Lecture, NSF NCAR Scientist and Associate Director Dr. Pieternel Levelt will discuss how these satellites can help inform further research as well as climate policies all around the world.

Pieternel Levelt

Director, Atmospheric Chemistry Observations and Modeling (ACOM), NSF NCAR

Dr. Pieternel F. Levelt has been director of NSF NCAR’s Atmospheric Chemistry Observations and Modeling (ACOM) Lab since June 2021. Her scientific expertise is in performing and interpreting satellite observations of the Earth’s atmospheric chemical composition in the context of climate change, air quality and the ozone layer. In 2018 she received the NASA/USGS Pecora Award and in 2021 the AMS Special Award on behalf of the International OMI Science Team. In April 2021 she was knighted in the Order of the Dutch Lion.

Dr. Levelt studied Chemistry at the Free University of Amsterdam, obtaining her Master’s degree in Physical Chemistry and then her PhD in Physics. Dr. Levelt became the Principal Investigator (PI) of the OMI instrument, which launched on NASA’s EOS-Aura satellite in 2004, and is still responsible for the international scientific program of OMI. She is the scientific founder of the Dutch/ESA TROPOMI satellite instrument that launched on the ESA/EU sentinel-5 precursor in 2017.

Dr. Levelt was the department head of the R&D department on Satellite Observations at KNMI (Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute) in The Netherlands. She is still affiliated with KNMI. Dr. Levelt is a professor in Remote Sensing of the Earth Atmosphere at University of Technology Delft, which is also still ongoing.

Dr. Levelt is a member of the Mission Advisory Groups (MAG) at ESA for the EU Copernicus sentinel 4, 5 missions and has chaired ESA’s s5-precursor/TROPOMI MAG. She co-chairs the Nitrosat mission, one of ESA’s Earth Explorer missions in phase 0, that focuses on the nitrogen cycle.

Lecture Preview

Recorded Lecture