The Power of TROPOMI to Bridge African Science and Policy


11 - 14 April 2022

Venue: Lorentz Center@Oort

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Air quality, with its impacts on human & ecosystem health, agricultural productivity, economic growth, and climate change, is an issue that is increasingly in the public eye. Tackling air quality issues requires bringing together timely and accurate scientific data with socio-economic data to create informed policies capable of effectuating lasting change. While African ground-based air quality measurements have struggled to gain national and continental footholds, satellite data, especially high-resolution measurements from the TROPOMI satellite can provide not only continental coverage but lend new insights for regional to city-scale air quality issues. TROPOMI plus the data from its predecessors can be used to quantify trends and current state of air pollutants emissions, thus providing a unique opportunity for areas where long-term air quality measurements are largely not available.

In Africa, the sources of pollutants are often a complex mix of anthropogenic (e.g. power generation, domestic/household burning of coal, charcoal, kerosene and wood, agricultural practices to burn crop residue, waste burning, and road transport) and natural sources (e.g. desert dust, biomass burning). Satellite data, in the form of imagery or used to calculate emissions, can be used to identify and delineate which sources have the largest impacts on specific regions of interest. Satellite data and imagery can go beyond improving global and regional air quality forecasting and help to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as it is well-established that improving air quality leads not only to reduction of air pollution exacerbated health problems but yields climate change benefits as well. Satellite data can be implemented in diverse ways to promote green growth.

The aim of this meeting is to bring African scientists and policy-makers together with other international members of the natural and socio-economic science communities to illustrate how TROPOMI satellite data can be used in powerful ways to jointly address pressing air quality issues. This workshop will serve as an arena to establish a community of practice for researchers, policymakers, and practitioners on the use of air quality and satellite data in Africa. The aims of the workshop are i) demonstrate the potential of satellite data to map air quality and climate-related impacts in a context where ground measurements are largely not available through showcasing case studies; ii) jointly identify additional measures and monitoring capacity with societal impact that could be addressed using already available satellite data; iii) to plan a roadmap towards the co-creation of the research agenda for TROPOMI in Africa with a potential to inform national policies.


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