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EarthSense Zephyr Air Quality Sensors Provide Insights to Urban Air Pollution in Major German Cities

Updated: Jun 27, 2019

EarthSense is working with the Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies (IASS) in Potsdam, Germany, to develop industry-first climate models.


Air quality expert, EarthSense, is providing its Zephyr air quality monitors to support the development of high spatial resolution urban air pollution and climate models.

Zephyr® deployed in Potsdam, Berlin, Germany

EarthSense Zephyrs are being deployed in a variety of urban settings in Berlin, such as on building facades and bicycles, to provide high resolution air quality measurements in real time.


With the primary aim of understanding small scale variation of air pollution in cities, the data will also be used to develop and validate city scale models for climate change and air quality. The results will provide building-resolved urban climate models for entire cities.


Researchers at the IASS Potsdam are using the Zephyr sensors to record levels of harmful air pollutants such as particle matter, nitrogen dioxide (NO2), and ozone (O3) as part of the 3Dimensional Observation of Atmospheric Processes in Cities (3DO) programme. 3DO is a component of Urban Climate Under Change (UC)², a collaboration of high-profile, multidisciplinary partners overseen by the Technical University Berlin.






Air quality measurements are conducted in parallel to other pollutant and climate-relevant parameters, forming part of Intense Observation Periods (IOPs) during the project.

The availability of such detailed air quality information has the potential to revolutionise urban planning decisions made by city governments and policy makers in Germany and abroad.


Zephyr sensors were also used in a preliminary study trialling bicycles to measure levels of O3 and NO2 in Berlin streets. The study confirmed that bicycles mounted with Zephyrs were the ideal choice to monitor air pollution exposure levels of residents in the area and to navigate complex urban architecture. For instance, they could be used in the planning of safe, clean and attractive cycle ways or to locate street cafes the optimum distance away from car exhausts and busy roads.


Using the Zephyr as a mobile air quality platform would be beneficial in the designing of future cities according to sustainable development goals.


Dr. Erika von Schneidemesser, Research Scientist and Project Leader from the IASS commented: “The urban climate is constantly changing and the 3DO programme is dedicated to modelling this change. We are using the Zephyr sensor in a number of innovative ways to meet our project goals.


For example, a Zephyr can be moved from a static position on the side of a building to a mobile unit on the back of a bicycle or car with ease. The support we are receiving from EarthSense has been invaluable from a research perspective.”


EarthSense Managing Director Tom Hall comments: “Collaborating with the IASS to explore the full range of applications and capabilities possible with Zephyr small sensor technology is an exciting new avenue. We look forward to seeing how our portable air quality monitors can be used in urban environments that are often overlooked or difficult to access; and how they can influence urban planning decisions from government bodies.”

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