Peter Lippert (left) and Grant Rea-Downing examine artificial pine branches being tested as passive air quality monitors. Photo from Sept. 2019. Credit: Paul Gabrielsen/University of Utah Every tree, even an evergreen, can be an air quality monitor. That’s the conclusion of researchers at the University of Utah who measured the magnetism of particulate matter on the needles of evergreen trees on the U campus. That measurement, they found, correlated to general air quality, suggesting that analysis of the needles—a relatively simple and low-cost process—could provide a high-resolution, year-round picture of air quality.
“Wherever you have a tree you have a data point,” says Grant Rea-Downing, a doctoral student in geology and geophysics. “A tree doesn’t cost $250 to deploy. We’ll be able to map particulate matter distributions at a very high resolution for very little cost.”
The results are published in GeoHealth .
How magnetic particles end up on leaves
Rea-Downing and his colleagues—associate professor Pete Lippert and fellow graduate students Courtney Wagner and Brendon Quirk—are all geoscientists in the Department of Geology and Geophysics whose regular research is on a much different scale than pine needles.
“Day to day,” Lippert says, “we move mountains and close ocean basins by using the […]
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