EO Detective ID LE10-1908-RJL-EOTEK

What do you work on?

My technical specialism is the detection and mapping of pollution across the world. I started doing this using data from satellites, and have more recently moved to ground-based and airborne monitoring and some innovative modelling. Air quality is the most important environmental risk to the human race in the twenty-first century, with 92% of the world’s population affected. It’s exciting to be able to contribute technical solutions to this critical human challenge.

How did you come to be an EO Detective?

After doing maths, physics and business studies at A-Level, I first did a degree in international business, and then one in physics and computer science. After some early valuable years in industry, I realised that I had to follow my passion for space science, and started a PhD at the age of 27. I’ve stayed in the specialist subject of my PhD – air quality research – for the last 15 years, because it has numerous interesting links through to earth observation and wider technology.

What does the image show?

The image shows our model of air quality in Leicester. It was created using data from space instruments and other sources, and the calculations needed a range of 3D models and a lot of supercomputing power.

How is the data you use collected?

We currently use data from the Ozone Monitoring Instrument, and will use data from Sentinels 4, 5 and 5P when they are launched. We also assimilate data from the Copernicus Atmospheres Monitoring Service – to let our models know what the imported pollution in any given city is likely to be.

What do you enjoy about your work?

  • Working with talented and inspiring people.
  • Working on cutting-edge technology.
  • Creating solutions to major problems in our society.

Tell us about your favourite image of the Earth from space

A map of the world showing satellite-measured pollution. The purple targets are places with high pollution and high population density, where it’s critical to deliver innovative new solutions.

What do you do in your spare time?

  • Spend time with my family (as much as I can).
  • Think about new toys and gadgets (yes – it’s an obsession!).