Satellite remote sensing provides a useful way to investigate the impact of intense local pollution sources, such as urban and industrial emissions, on regional air quality. This false-color image shows carbon monoxide plumes at an altitude of roughly 3 km (700 millibars) in the atmosphere over eastern Asia and extending eastward well out over the Pacific Ocean. This image represents a composite of data collected from January 27 through February 2, 2003, by the Measurements Of Pollution In The Troposphere (MOPITT) instrument aboard NASA’s Terra satellite. The white and gray areas show where no data were collected, either due to persistent cloud cover or gaps between viewing swaths.
Carbon monoxide is a good tracer of pollution since it is produced by incomplete combustion processes, such as those associated with electricity generation and petrochemical processing in the region.