A STUDY of Perth’s air quality by interstate universities to help predict future pollution levels has determined the accuracy of forecast models for the region would be low due to diffuse sources of bushfire smoke.
Researchers from the Universities of Wollongong and Tasmania investigated the relationship between daily pollution levels and the daily spatial pattern of hotspot (fire) activity in the landscapes surrounding Perth and Sydney.
The researchers used daily thermal anomalies detected by the orbital MODIS system as well as pollution concentrations and meteorological data from 2002 to 2008.
They then examined the statistical relationship between fire activity in the landscape and pollution levels around the two cities, which were chosen out of 20 prospective locations nationwide for their best run of pollution data.
University of Wollongong Centre for Environmental Risk Management of Bushfires senior research fellow Owen Price says the study built on previous research which highlighted the relationship between bushfire smoke and human health impacts.
Mr Price says there is a definite connection between fire activity and pollution in urban centres but that there are separate windows of influence of fire activity on pollution.