1 Project Inception
Air pollution is an important factor that determines the quality of life. Pollution may be classified into two factors, anthropogenic emissions and natural sources. Attempts to curb man-made emissions such as exhaust fumes, burning of fossil fuels and greenhouse gasses are being made. Natural sources of air pollution include des salt, suspended oil and dust. Other natural sources of air pollution which are less common are gasses released during forest fires and volcanic eruptions.
One of the more natural pollutant events in Malta is dust storms from the Sahara desert. Though not very frequent they are relatively common and their effects felt by the whole country. Dust from the Sahara impacts several activities. It is the harbinger of hot dry air from the South East and when it rains brownish-red dust deposited. However, the effects of dust storms are more widespread than thought. Dust laden winds from the Sahara Desert carry a number of particles composed of different sizes of chemicals and minerals. These particles affect asthmatics especially the quartz content of the dust. Also, visibility of at airports and shipping lanes is affected.
It is difficult to eliminate or mitigate natural sources of pollution but using satellite technology dust plume events may be monitored in a quasi-real-time fashion. The path that these dust may take may be predicted using state of the art algorithms and warning issued in a timely fashion.
Thus the concept of a set of predictive tools related to the forecasting of dust plumes from the Sahara Desert was developed. The project was named AEROTOX for Atmospheric Toolbox using satellite technology and numerical weather prediction. The aim of this project is to provide timely forecasts for dust storms originating over the Sahara Desert.