Invisible Dust

London | Tuesday 19 February
Pollution level: Moderate

Dr. Hugh Mortimer

(This is a 12 micron night-time image acquired on 7th September 1991; the area covered is 512 x 512 square km.)

Planetary and Atmospheric Research Scientist

Dr Hugh Mortimer will collaborate with the artists and curator to further his research into aerosols critical to the quality of people’s health and our understanding of climate change.

Mortimer directs his own research and has developed his own miniaturized spectrometer for the use in Earth based observation. This is to be used specifically for space based and in-situ monitoring of atmospheric trace gases. Mortimer is also part of a team responsible for the calibration of a future Climate Change monitoring instrument; the Sea and Land Surface Temperature Radiometer (SLSTR) based on the satellite Sentinel 3. This is to be launched in 2012.

The above image is a 12 micron night-time image acquired on 7th September 1991; the area covered is 512 x 512 square km.

Obtained from the  ATSR (Along Track Scanning Radiometer) instruments produce infrared images of the Earth at a spatial resolution of one kilometre. The data from these instruments is useful for scientific studies of the land surface, atmosphere, clouds, oceans, and the cryosphere.

The first ATSR instrument, ATSR-1, was launched on board the European Space Agency’s (ESA) European Remote Sensing Satellite (ERS-1) in July 1991, as part of their Earth Observation Programme.

London and many other English cities can be seen as bright thermal `footprints’ in this night-time image of England, France and the English Channel. In the false-colour representation used here, temperature increases through blue and yellow to orange over a temperature range of 278-288K.

The River Seine is the most prominent feature on the French landscape, but Paris is just beyond the lower extent of this image. The temperature gradients seen in the North Sea are characteristic of that region ranging from 290K in coastal waters to about 280K mid-channel.

The clouds in the image are about as warm as the land and are thus indistinguishable by their colour. However they are immediately apparent to those familar with the local geography or indeed no Channel Tunnel would be required!


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