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Tracking Pollution in West Africa

Posted on 1 September 2016

York chemists operating research aircraft over West Africa have detected organic materials in the atmosphere over a number of urban areas, contributing to concerns of the rise in pollution across the region.

Tracking Pollution in West Africa aircraft

The EU funded Dynamics Aerosols Clouds and Climate in West Africa (DACCIWA) project has, for the first time, investigated the impacts of natural and man-made emissions on the West African atmosphere.  The team, led by the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) in Germany, includes scientists from the Universities of York, Leeds, Reading and Manchester, in partnership with the UK National Centre for Atmospheric Science.

Three aircraft, carrying sophisticated instruments to collect atmospheric data, were used to track air pollution from the big coastal cities of Accra, Abidjan, Lomé and Cotonou, as it streams inland reaching the forests and the Sahara. Dr Mat Evans, from the University’s Wolfson Atmospheric Chemistry Laboratories, explains: “Monsoon winds with sea salt from the south, Sahara winds with dust from the north, charcoal fires and burning rubbish from cities as well as power plants, ship traffic, oil rigs and out-dated engines, contribute to the air over the coastal regions, making it a unique mixture of various gases, liquids and particles.

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