IAQM Webinar: Measuring air pollution with low-cost small sensors: Challenges and opportunities

Tuesday, 22 September 2020 - 12:30pm to 1:15pm

Small sensors are increasingly being used to measure gases and particles in the atmosphere, as part of academic research and in citizen science projects. Their low cost, portability and low power requirements bring new measurement possibilities, for example to improve the spatial representation in air quality monitoring networks.

However, to deliver quantitative observations requires that sensor performances should be well-understood and characterised. 

Furthermore, sensor behaviour depends on the environment of application. Tjarda Roberts, through research, has deployed small sensors at volcanoes where monitoring of gas emissions informs observatories about volcanic activity and eruption hazards. Alongside this she has deployed small gas and particle sensors to measure the high levels of urban pollution experienced in Fairbanks, Alaska, during the cold Arctic winter. These applications enable (and require) the characterisation of small sensor performances in “extreme environments” and can provide valuable insights to the processes underlying the pollution events.

Our speaker

Tjarda Roberts is a Research Scientist at CNRS (French National Centre for Scientific Research). She obtained her PhD in Atmospheric Chemistry from the University of Cambridge in 2009, and undertook postdoctoral research at the Norwegian Polar Institute and a Guest Lectureship at the University Centre in Svalbard, before becoming a CNRS Research Scientist in 2016.

Her research focuses on atmospheric pollution, combining the development of numerical models of the plume processes with deployment of small sensor instruments to characterise the gas and particle emissions. A major research strand is on volcanic emissions and investigation of the plume chemistry that occurs when hot volcanic gases enter the cool oxidising atmosphere.

Another is on applying small sensor technology to characterise gas and particle pollution episodes in the Arctic. She was awarded the CNRS Bronze Medal in 2020.


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