Remote Sensing and Modelling, Satellite-based Nitrogen Dioxide, Oil Sands Region

In the oil sands air monitoring component, nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and sulphur dioxide (SO2) levels are monitored by ground-based instruments, satellites and other measurements. Monitoring of air pollutants from satellites is becoming an alternative to surface and aircraft measurements, and allows for better understanding of the global distribution, sources and trends of pollutants.

Using satellite data for the oil sands region, high-resolution air pollutant maps show distinct concentrations of NO2 (Figure 1a) and SO2 (Figure 1b) over an area (roughly 30 km x 50 km, or 19 miles x 31 miles) of intensive oil sands surface mining. The map shows that NO2 concentrations are significant and are comparable to measurements made over large, individual sources such as coal-burning power plants. NO2 concentrations in the oil sand region are smaller than the signal observed by large metropolitan areas in Canada and significantly smaller that the signal observed elsewhere in North America (Figures 1c and 1d). The SO2 concentrations are also significant and are comparable to those from individual industrial emissions sources, including large base-smelting operations in Manitoba and Ontario. The Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment (CCME) has begun work to develop Canadian Ambient Air Quality Standards for NO2 and SO2. The satellite data may be considered for the development of these standards and will be helpful to understanding the impact of the response to any future standards. (See document for figures - Satellite Figures-EngFr.pdf )



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