EarthSense Systems Computer Models Impact of Trees on Urban Air Pollution

Leicestershire, UK, 22 March 2017 Software developed by EarthSense Systems has been used to assess how trees impact on urban air quality on one of Londons most polluted streets. Called FluidAir, the state of the art solution uses Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) to simulate the flow and dispersion of pollutants within complex 3D surroundings, such as city streets.

Scientists at EarthSense Systems, who specialise in air quality monitoring solutions, integrated road, building and tree data to create an accurate 3D model of the Marylebone area of London. Recorded pollution levels were combined with traffic flow data from the Department for Transport and meteorological information from London City Airport, to calculate pollution concentrations and investigate different tree scenarios.

Air pollution is the worlds largest single environmental health risk. Globally it costs 3-5 trillion per year, affects 92 per cent of the worlds population and is associated with more than three million deaths per annum. In the UK alone, the economic cost of air pollution is estimated at 54 billion, and 29,000-40,000 people are thought to die prematurely from its effects, commented Antoine Jeanjean, Head of Modelling at EarthSense Systems. With an increasing trend of urbanisation, our understanding of air pollution distribution has to increase and data collection and modelling must be used intelligently to aid key decisions and mitigation strategies.

According to EarthSense scientists, the analysis of the CFD results, created using FluidAir, and the data monitored at the Marylebone site shows that trees should be considered as a mitigation measure where streets run parallel to the prevailing winds. However, they also concluded that trees may exacerbate pollution trapping for wind directions perpendicular to the street canyon orientation, and additional planting would not improve air pollution in this situation. The effect of trees on pedestrians was also investigated, and it was found that the introduction of trees in the street slightly changes the distribution of concentrations.

Put simply, this study confirms previous findings that street air quality is altered by trees in many different ways depending on street geometry, wind speed and direction and sampling height, concluded Jeanjean. Using FluidAir for these studies improved the processing time and allowed for the inclusion of a wider range of data and, as a result, more detailed and in-depth analysis.

The results of the EarthSense System case study are available as an academic paper entitled Air quality affected by trees in real street canyons: the case of Marylebone neighbourhood in central London published by Antoine Jeanjean in Urban Forestry and Urban Greening and available online: A white paper summarising the study is also available from

About EarthSense
EarthSense Systems aims to deliver products that enable the world to visualise and solve its air quality issues. A joint venture between aerial mapping company Bluesky and the University of Leicester, EarthSense enables policy makers, planners and those responsible for delivering results to access real world information in order to support decision making. With a mix of hardware (air quality sensors), software (bespoke modelling), data (derived and complementary) and people, EarthSense is uniquely poised to take a lead in air quality monitoring solutions and services, making a difference to peoples lives and delivering high value information to a range of consumers and decision makers. EarthSense has already undertaken a range of air quality monitoring projects, including trials of an airborne air quality mapper, air pollution monitoring equipment on a rocket, and mobile mapping with air quality sensors mounted in electric cars. Future plans include the establishment of a nationwide network of air quality monitoring sensors, feeding live data for up to the minute air quality predictions.

About The University of Leicester
The University of Leicester is a leading UK University committed to international excellence through the creation of world changing research and high quality inspirational teaching. Leicester is among the most socially inclusive of Britain’s top 20 leading universities. The University of Leicester is The Times/Sunday Times 2014 University of the Year Runner-Up and the THE University of the Year 2008-9. Leicester is a three-time winner of the Queens Anniversary Prize for Higher and Further Education, and is the only University to win seven consecutive awards from the Times Higher Education (THE) magazine. Leicester is ranked 14th out of 121 institutions by The Times/Sunday Times and the University is ranked among the top two percent in the world by the QS World University Rankings, Taiwan World University Rankings and THE World University Rankings.

About Bluesky
Bluesky is a specialist in aerial survey including aerial photography, LiDAR and thermal data using the very latest survey technology, including two UltraCam Eagles and a Teledyne Optech Galaxy LiDAR system integrated with a PhaseOne camera and thermal sensor. An internationally recognised leader with projects extending around the globe, Bluesky is proud to work with prestigious organisations such as Google, the BBC and Government Agencies. Bluesky has unrivalled expertise in the creation of seamless, digital aerial photography and maintains national off the shelf coverage of aerial photography, DTM and DSM through an on-going three-year update programme. The integrated Galaxy LiDAR system, which includes thermal and aerial photography cameras, places Bluesky at the forefront of this technology and in the enviable position of being able to provide customers with unique and extremely cost effective solutions. Bluesky is leading the way in developing innovative solutions for environmental applications, including the UKs first National Tree Map (NTM), solar mapping and citywide heat loss maps and is currently developing noise and air quality mapping products.