17 years of MOPITT Data Show Changes in Global Pollution

MOPITT LAUNCH AND TERRA SATELLITENASA EOS-Terra Launch on December 18, 1999.                                   Artist image of the Terra satellite in space.
(Photos from NASA Earth Observatory)                                                                                                 


MOPITT (Measurements of pollution in the troposphere) was launched in December 1999 on the NASA EOS-Terra spacecraft. Built for a 6-year mission, MOPITT and the other Terra instruments (ASTER, CERES, MISR and MODIS) have far exceeded expectations and continue to produce data used for operational forecasts as well as in research by hundreds of scientists. MOPITT measures carbon monoxide (CO), an important chemical in the atmosphere that can be used to track pollution from urban areas and large scale fires. MOPITT is a joint U.S. and Canadian instrument and NCAR/ACOM is responsible for developing and running the retrieval algorithms that produce the MOPITT data products.

MOPITT data have been extensively validated and used to study air quality, biomass burning, atmospheric composition and climate with a long record of publications. You can access MOPITT publications and User's Guides online.


Click to see large image.

The image above show examples of CO pollution events captured by MOPITT over the data record. The time series in the top center shows the large difference between southern and northern hemisphere CO abundance and a strong seasonal cycle. The seasonal cycle is driven by photochemical destruction of CO, which is weaker in winter, causing a longer residence lifetime of months in the atmosphere at higher latitudes and a build-up of CO into early spring This is followed by more active chemical production and destruction in late spring, summer and early autumn, with shorter CO lifetimes around a few weeks. While the northern hemisphere shows high CO over populated regions, the southern hemisphere has high CO events due to large scale biomass burning usually associated with agricultural activities but intensified by cycles of drought related to El Niño and other climate indices.


17 years of MOPITT Statistics
Graphic provided by M. Dejmek, et al., CSA                              Click to see larger image.


Worldwide MOPITT Data UsersGraphic provided by M. Dejmek, et al., CSA                                                                     Click to see larger image.


MOPITT Numbers




ACOM | Atmospheric Chemistry Observations & Modeling