Photo credit  |  4EI and King’s College London – Satellite Air quality Model over London.

Air quality modelling and traffic emissions

Air Quality, Atmosphere  |  01 March, 2020  |  Reading time: 3 minutes

Earth observation for air quality modelling and traffic emissions

    • Very High Resolution (VHR) satellite data and object detection algorithms used as a proxy for vehicle emissions
    • High level of detail and accuracy possible (20 m resolution)
    • A highly efficient approach to modelling air pollution means efficient production of highly detailed maps at both regional and local scale
    • Test ‘what-if’ scenarios for the future days or weeks or used as a policy tool, forecasting years ahead.

4EI are currently undertaking an ESA BA Demonstrator funded project with Kings College London, to improve their globally renown Air Quality modelling using traffic data derived from satellite data. This data along with 4EI’s surface heat temperature mapping for urban areas and other satellite derived products are now being tested with a range of customers as part of a climate and urban resilience data service.

The data is designed to be used by customers who need data for their own use, or for customers who are providing products and services for their customers.

4EI and Kings College London – Satellite Air quality Model over London.


Air pollution was responsible for 5.5m attributable deaths in 2013, is the fourth largest risk factor for deaths worldwide and with 66% of people predicted to live in cities by 2050, air pollution represents an important global health challenge.

Deriving geospatial data inputs from Earth Observation (EO) satellites provides a fast and cost-effective method of understanding the current situation allowing production of some of the most detailed and sophisticated air pollution models.

4 Earth Intelligence and KCL have provided their air quality data to a large range of sectors and stakeholders to aid air pollution policy and strategy, insurance/risk modelling, assessment reports of pollution emissions as well as offering road by road traffic and speed estimates.

4EI and Kings College London – Satellite Air quality Model over London showing Hospital Locations

4 Earth Intelligence’s satellite derived products aim to be deployed by UK government agencies providing supporting evidence for ‘What-if’ scenario through the analysis of past and current pollution levels. This will enable agencies to better understand and mitigate the effects of air pollution on our growing population.

UK expertise

The service is formed on the basis of a collaboration between 4 Earth Intelligence and King’s College London (KCL), using high resolution satellite data and air pollution modelling, to create some of the most detailed air pollution maps ever produced for cities around the globe. Their web service and data feeds allows users instant access to the air pollution data, benefiting customers in numerous ways.

Bristol based, 4EI are applying remote sensing and GIS expertise to create the data insights and monitoring necessary for climate resilience, transparency and monitoring the impact of policy and mitigation strategies across the world.

4EI operate internationally and have experience in, and capability for, running ESA Business Applications projects at Feasibility and Demonstrator level as well providing national level projects, products and services. Examples include: the ESA Business applications demonstration project Satellite Air Quality modelling with Kings College London and both the Environment Agency Abu Dhabi national habitat mapping and mangrove monitoring service, derived from high resolution satellite data.

Team insight

Donna Lyndsay, Commercial Director of 4EI:


“Our space community has the technical capability to help decision makers mitigate against large scale impacts from climate change, physical hazards and human risks, and this is one step to ensuring all the technical complexity from space is distilled to simple key indicators to enable practical use on the ground”