Tracking Environmental Changes...and Dangers


Maider Llaguno-Munitxa, Elie Bou-Zeid, William Guthe, Eliot Feibush,

Project Summary

In general, the air is more polluted in cities than in the countryside. But how does it vary block by block? With this image, Princeton University researchers represent the hyper-local variation of the concentration of 2.5 micron particulate matter—the type of air pollution considered most harmful to human health—in New York City.

The visualization uses data collected from a network of stationary and mobile air quality sensors that can perform street-by-street air quality surveys, and displays them spatially utilizing the Google Earth map of Manhattan. Pollution is highest around the most densely developed areas, but as you stroll over to Central Park, the concentration plummets, underscoring how emissions from traffic and buildings influence the air we breathe. Making the invisible threat of air pollution visible can help researchers and the public better understand pollution sources and how to control them.

*Published in 2020 CASC Brochure*

The Coalition for Academic Scientific Computation (CASC) has over 90 member institutions, including Princeton University.  CASC provides a forum for best practice computing and data services to advance academic research. They recognize that visualization plays a key role in exploring, verifying, and communicating the large amount of data generated by computer simulations. 

CASC publishes an annual brochure of images produced by its members. This visualization was selected for the 2020 CASC brochure and can be found on page 11.

Technology/Software Used

We used GIS software to create Keyhole Markup files (KMZ) that were displayed in Google Earth.