What Is the Air Quality in Seoul according to Satellite Imagery? Cities...

What Is the Air Quality in Seoul according to Satellite Imagery? Cities with the World’s Worst Air Quality: Beijing, Guangzhou, Tokyo, Los Angeles, and Seoul


A satellite imagery map taken by NASA in 2014. South Korea, between northeastern China and southern Japan, appears as dark red. The darker the red, the worse the air quality. (Source: NASA)

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) tracked air pollution trends in 195 cities around the world, using new, high-resolution global satellite maps of air quality indicators, and released its results on December 14 (local time). According to the NASA findings, China, India and the Middle East, with their fast-growing economies and expanding industry, have seen growing air pollution, while the United States, Europe and Japan have improved air quality.

NASA scientists observed each city’s air quality over the last decade from 2005 to 2014. What they focused on was nitrogen dioxide. Nitrogen dioxide is a yellowish-brown gas produced by cars, power plants and industrial activity. In the data visualization, orange and red areas denote higher concentrations of NO2, while blue and green areas denote lower concentrations. There is also a map that shows changes in NO2 concentrations over a decade.

What is the air quality in Seoul, South Korea? According to NASA, Seoul ranked fifth worst in the world in terms of the average nitrogen dioxide levels last year, along with Shanghai. Only Beijing, Guangzhou, Tokyo and Los Angeles had worse air quality than Seoul. But on a brighter note, Seoul’s concentration level of nitrogen dioxide has decreased by 15 percent over the last decade.

A trend map of East Asia shows changes in nitrogen dioxide concentrations from 2005 to 2014.

Reporter Lee Seul[dew@newshankuk.com]