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Exploring Land Use and Land Cover Effects on Air Quality in Central Alabama Using GIS and Remote Sensing

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Author(s): Stephen D. Superczynski | Sundar A. Christopher

Journal: Remote Sensing
ISSN 2072-4292

Volume: 3;
Issue: 12;
Start page: 2552;
Date: 2011;
Original page

Keywords: satellite remote sensing | particulate matter | air quality | environmental policy

ABSTRACT
Air pollution has been a major topic of debate in highly developed areas over the last quarter century and therefore mitigation of poor air quality for health and environmental reasons has been a primary focus for local governments. Particulate matter, especially finer particles (PM2.5), is detrimental to human health, and urban expansion is thought to be a contributing factor to enhanced levels of PM2.5. However, there is limited research on the connection between land use and land cover change (LULC) and PM2.5 emissions. Using high resolution LANDSAT imagery from the past 12 years along with ground observations of PM2.5 mass concentrations in the Birmingham, AL region, we explore the links between the PM2.5 mass concentrations and LULC trends. Utilization of GIS allowed us to seamlessly analyze county-based patterns of LULC change and PM2.5 concentrations and display them in an easy to interpret manner. We found a moderate-to-strong correlation between PM2.5 observations and the urban area surrounding monitoring sites in 1998 and 2010. We also discuss factors such as local climate and topography and EPA imposed standards that can confound these comparisons. Finally, we determine the next steps that are required to fully quantify the cause and effect between LULC and air quality.
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