Uruguay and TNO join forces to harness satellite data for air quality prediction

Space and scientific instrumentation
16 January 2024

Dutch knowledge and expertise in using satellites to monitor air pollution is shared with Uruguay to help them measure air quality and local emissions. TNO (The Netherlands Organization for Applied Scientific Research) is doing this through a project with the Ministry of Environment of Uruguay. The Netherlands has an internationally recognized position in this field thanks to the success of the Dutch TROPOMI satellite instrument that globally measures air pollution on a daily basis. Ultimately the goal of the cooperation is the realization of a system that continuously monitors and predicts air pollution in Uruguay nationwide.


TNO has extensive experience in measuring air pollution using satellite instruments. We are excited to use this to support a country like Uruguay to address their specific monitoring needs.

Anton Leemhuis

Director of Earth Observation at TNO

Air pollution is a global health concern. To implement effective air pollution policies precise data is essential. Traditionally countries address this via nation-wide ground measurement networks. However, for countries that have less ground measurement infrastructure the freely available data from satellites, for example of the TROPOMI instrument of the Sentinel-5p satellite of ESA, provide an opportunity.

Air pollution from space

Concentration-hotspots in Uruguay

In the project with the Ministry of Environment of Uruguay TNO will study the feasibility of using satellite data for nationwide detection of pollution concentration-hotspots in Uruguay. TNO will also provide training to ministry employers in the use of their air quality simulations model called LOTOS-EUROS, which can be used alongside satellite data for air quality predictions. This model is currently already used for daily air quality forecasts as part of the Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring service of the European Committee and the European Space Agency (ESA). Anton Leemhuis: “It is through the combination of ground measurements, satellites observation and models of reported emission, that we can create the best possible prediction of air quality in a country.”

Dutch expertise

The Netherlands has a long-standing expertise in realizing earth observation missions for air pollution, nitrogen and greenhouse gas monitoring through the scientific cooperation of the Clear Air partnership of KNMI (The Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute), SRON (Netherlands Institute for Space Research), TNO and Technical University Delft. A concrete example is the Dutch satellite instrument TROPOMI, of which the optical heart was designed for a large part by TNO. Since 2017 this groundbreaking innovation measures the atmosphere, including nitrogen dioxide, methane, particulate matter and ozone, 24/7 worldwide. Leemhuis “This project with our partners in Uruguay is an excellent example of how this Dutch heritage results in practical applications and create new opportunities for similar developments elsewhere, either in the government or private sector.”

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