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How climate change makes air pollution worse

There is clear evidence that air pollution has direct and indirect climate effects. This is also true the other way around: climate change worsens air quality.

How warmer temperatures worsen air quality

Ground-level ozone (O3) is a secondary gas that is formed through a combination of heat and sunlight with other air pollutants like carbon monoxide (CO), methane (CH4), nitrogen oxides (NOx), and volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Thus, higher temperatures would naturally lead to an increase in ozone formation. 

This is supported by a study modelling ozone trends in Europe. In it, researchers investigated the effects of climate change on emissions of isoprene, which is a VOC produced by trees, and dry deposition, which is the uptake of ozone by plants. The result? Climate change is expected to double isoprene emissions, with up to 30% of the future increase in ozone concentrations expected to result from this. Plant uptake is expected to decrease in drier, warmer temperatures and will contribute to 60% of the future change in ozone levels.

The frequency and severity of wildfires has increased in recent years due to high temperatures and low humidity caused by climate change. The fires produce pollutants such as carbon monoxide (CO), carbon dioxide (CO2), nitrogen oxides (NOx), methane (CH4), and particulate matter (PM). Emissions are only expected to get worse as the earth continues to warmstudies have found that Earth’s boreal forests are burning at an unprecedented rate not seen in 10,000 years and that wildfire season has increased by 25.3% across global vegetated areas. 

How to combat climate change and improve air quality

Global warming and increasing pollution emissions are a vicious feedback loop that we need to break as the human race. Setting up better air quality monitoring networks can be the first step in solving this challenge. Better air quality data can offer valuable insights into pollution sources and developments. Breeze Technologies’ AI-powered air quality sensors provide accurate, real-time air quality and climate data on all major air pollutants alongside indicators such as temperature and humidity. This is processed and analyzed by our Environmental Intelligence Cloud, which can then be leveraged to determine targeted clean air actions to help improve the environment and by extension, air quality. At the same time, we are also working on real-time wildfire identification based on air quality data to support first responders to extinguish fires before they get out of control. Contact us today to find out more about what we do for cleaner air!