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Last Updated: Tuesday, 25 July 2006, 08:52 GMT 09:52 UK
Space images show UK sweltering
Satellite images showing sharp rises in temperatures and air pollution levels

Sensors in space have recorded the dramatic increases in land temperatures and air pollution as the UK swelters in record-breaking July heat.

The images show major cities like London, Birmingham and Liverpool experiencing the highest levels of the air pollutant nitrogen dioxide (NO2).

Wisley in Surrey recorded an unprecedented 36.5C (97.3F) on 19 July.

The images were generated from data gathered by the European Space Agency's Envisat and Nasa's Aura satellites.

John Remedios, head of Earth Observation Science at the University of Leicester, said: "The latest satellite data shows a perspective of the environment in which we live that can only be obtained from space.

"The images show temperature increases and increased pollution for every region in the UK."

Dr Remedios added: "It is particularly striking to see the extent of temperature and pollution increases in the large cities, which have such a detrimental effect on the quality of life in those locations."

Current climate change predictions for the UK suggest that the frequency of the these extreme periods of high temperature and pollution will increase
Dr Gary Corlett, University of Leicester

The images show the stark differences in land temperatures and nitrogen dioxide between 15 and 18 July when most of the UK experienced heatwave conditions.

This period also coincided with the government issuing its second heatwave smog warning of the summer, when air pollution was classified as "high" or "very high".

Future forecast?

Researchers at the University of Leicester, who released the images, said the data could offer some insight into the future.

"These extremes of temperature and of pollution are likely to occur periodically throughout this summer as the prevailing heatwave conditions maintain themselves," Earth Observation Science's Dr Gary Corlett said.

"Moreover, current climate change predictions for the UK suggest that the frequency of the these extreme periods of high temperature and pollution will increase."

The land temperatures were recorded by the Advanced Along Track Scanning Radiometer (AATSR), an instrument funded by the UK's Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, on the European Space Agency's Envisat platform.

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The NO2 readings were taken by the Ozone Monitoring Instrument (OMI) onboard Nasa's Aura satellite.

Scientists hope access to this sort of data will allow more accurate and quicker assessments of nations' compliance with air pollution limits.


Do you have any pictures of the extreme weather in the UK? If so, you can send them to yourpics@bbc.co.uk




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