Crowdsourced aerosol measurements using smartphone spectropolarimeters


We present the development, organisation and results of a large citizen science project with the goal to measure and characterise atmospheric aerosols using a network of smartphone spectropolarimeters. The project, called ‘;iSPEX’, was conceived and carried out in the Netherlands, and organised the first National iSPEX measurement day on July 8th 2013. During this day, more than 3000 people performed over 6000 measurements with their own smartphones using a special add-on and a dedicated app. These measurements were sent to a central database, processed and analysed using a vector-radiative transfer based inversion code in order to extract aerosol properties. The add- on that transforms the camera of the smartphone into a spectropolarimeter and thereby the smartphone into a scientific instrument, employs the method of spectral modulation [1]. The add-on is comprised of polymer parts and was mass-produced and distributed to almost 10000 people. A single measurement involves scanning the blue sky, thereby yielding the angular behaviour of the degree of linear polarisation as a function of wavelength. Although a single iSPEX measurement is not accurate enough, combining many measurements of a crowdsourced experiment with thousands of people should yield sufficiently accurate results that may be interpreted in terms of aerosol optical thickness and aerosol particle properties. By analysing not only the measured results, but also the motivation of the general public to participate, we learn about the possibilities to create a new kind of air quality measurement network. At the conference, we will demonstrate iSPEX and present the results of the first measurement day. We hope to convince you that iSPEX is not only a great outreach tool to engage the public in issues pertaining to atmospheric aerosols, but that it may also contribute to the solution of several urgent societal and scientific problems. [1] Snik, F., Karalidi, T., Keller, C.U.. Spectral modulation for full linear polarimetry. Appl. Opt. 48,1337 (2009) Fig. 1: An iSPEX participant measuring the scattered sun light.

Fig. 2: Many iSPEX participants submitting their measured data.

AGU Fall Meeting Abstracts