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Global Air Quality Trends: Future Insights

Explore the impact of heat waves on AQI and trends worldwide and gain future projections. Take steps for cleaner air and a healthier future.

Most of us wouldn't dare drink dirty water, yet over 90% of us breathe air that's just as harmful. It isn't some distant threat—it's a ticking health bomb affecting millions.

Think of the Air Quality Index (AQI) as a thermometer for air. It tells us if the air is safe or packed with nasty ozone and dust, making breathing hard, especially during heatwaves. These aren't just hot spells; they're like air pollution factories, cooking up unhealthy smog.

The problem is that AQI data could be better. It's often patchy, like weather reports from scattered islands. But what if we could combine these reports with satellite images and weather forecasts to create a real-time map of clean and dirty air worldwide?

Imagine predicting the next pollution spike after a heatwave or pinpointing areas struggling with constant bad air. That's where data science comes in, like a superhero with a magnifying glass for air pollution.

Key Points

  • The Air Quality Index (AQI) is a crucial metric indicating pollution levels during a heat wave.
  • Analysis of AQI trends across countries reveals that India, China, Iraq, Qatar, and Iran are severely affected, with high average AQI scores.
  • The trends highlight persistent air quality challenges, emphasizing the need for targeted interventions and policies.
  • The article analyzes a significant heatwave in Alabama, which is expected to be the most intense of the decade. High temperatures exceeding 100°F contribute to a heatwave, impacting air quality and triggering health alerts.
  • While the forecast suggests a generally moderate range, local conditions may influence air quality levels, emphasizing the need for continuous monitoring.
Global Air Quality Trends: Heatwaves, AQI, and Future Insights
Table of Contents

What is the Air Quality Index (AQI)?

The Air Quality Index (AQI) is like a health report card for our air. It tells us how clean or polluted the air is and, in simple terms, helps us understand if it's safe to take a deep breath and read more. When the AQI is high, there's more air pollution, which can be bad news for our health. Breathing in polluted air can lead to problems like trouble breathing, heart issues, and other diseases. 

It's like letting an invisible opponent into our bodies. The higher the AQI, the higher the risks. For example, during a heatwave, the AQI can spike, worsening air quality. So, paying attention to the AQI is like taking care of our well-being, making sure the air we breathe doesn't harm us.

We will analyze the recent heat wave and its impact on air quality. When temperatures exceed 100°F, the heatwave is considered a heat wave. It is attributed to a high-pressure ridge moving over the state from the west. The study aims to analyze the observed data, understand the associated risks, and highlight necessary public health and safety precautions. Consider living in an area where the air is healthy and pure.

Heatwave Analysis

A heatwave is an extended period of abnormally hot weather, usually defined as at least three days with daily high temperatures above the average for that location and time of year. Heatwaves can harm young people, older people, and those with underlying medical issues. It may result in 

  • Dehydration, 
  • Heatstroke, 
  • Other medical problems.

Heatwaves can occur anywhere in the world, but they are more common in certain regions, such as the Middle East, North Africa, and Australia. Due to climate change, they are becoming more common in other parts of the world, such as the United States. The most extreme heatwaves on record have occurred in recent years. 

Heatwave Analysis

In 2015, a heatwave in Pakistan killed more than 1,000 people. In 2016, a heatwave in India killed more than 4,000 people. And in 2018, a heatwave in Europe killed more than 1,500 people. Heatwaves can have a significant impact on the economy. It can cause businesses to close, disrupt transportation, and decline agricultural production. 

It can also lead to power outages and water shortages. Heatwaves are a serious threat to human health and the economy. It is important to be aware of the risks of heat waves and to take steps to protect yourself and your loved ones.

Year-Month Country Average Temperature (°F) Heatwave AQI Score
2022-06 India 104 Yes 95
2022-06 China 98 Yes 85
2022-06 Iraq 110 Yes 90
2022-06 Qatar 108 Yes 80
2022-06 Iran 106 Yes 75
2022-06 Pakistan 102 Yes 70
2022-06 Saudi Arabia 100 Yes 65
2022-06 United Arab Emirates 98 Yes 60
2022-06 Turkey 96 Yes 55

Air Quality Assessment

The AQI determines whether the air is clean or contaminated. It is computed by adding numerous contaminants, such as: 

  • Particulate matter, 
  • Ground-level ozone, 
  • Sulfur dioxide, 
  • Carbon monoxide, 
  • Nitrogen dioxide. 

The AQI is calculated on a scale of zero to 500, with 0 representing the cleanest air and 500 being the most polluted. The air quality index (AQI) is used to educate the public about air pollution and to protect public health.

Air Quality Assessment = (Concentration of Pollutant) / (Standard for Pollutant)

How to improve the AQI?

Air pollution can cause major health concerns like respiratory issues, heart disease, and cancer. It can also be harmful to crops and ecosystems. Individuals must adopt preventive measures to minimize the adverse effects of extreme heat.

  • Staying adequately hydrated, 
  • Seeking cool environments, 
  • Avoiding overexertion during peak daytime temperatures is strongly advised. 
These precautions are essential to prevent heat-related illnesses and maintain public health.

Case Study: Exploring Global Air Quality (2022-2023)

In this analysis, we will analyze the publicly available dataset of AQI. However, the data was limited; it contains values from 2022 and 2023. We used the RStudio for data analysis and downloaded this data set from this link.

globally AQI Index  for 2022-23

Exploratory Data Analysis

Upon analyzing the dataset, it is observed that the distribution of the AQI Value variable is skewed towards the right. It means there is a left tail in the distribution, indicating relatively fewer instances of highly high AQI values. 

Histogram of average AQI by using the base hist function of RStudio

Skewness shows that the air quality is usually in the moderate range. However, there are instances where the AQI values reach as high as 963, showing occasional spikes in air pollution; read more.

Top 20 Countries Affected by High AQI

The graph shows the top 20 countries most severely affected by the Air Quality Index (AQI). Each country is accompanied by its corresponding average AQI score.

Top 20 Countries Affected by High AQI by using the ggplot2
India holds the highest average AQI score of approximately 187, indicating significant air pollution levels. China, with an average AQI score of 177, showcases the extent of air quality challenges in the region. Iraq, Qatar, and Iran also experience considerable air pollution, with average AQI scores of 175, 166, and 156, respectively. Ethiopia, Bangladesh, Bahrain, Kuwait, and the United Arab Emirates all demonstrate relatively high average AQI scores ranging from 156 to 127. 

These values signify substantial air quality issues in these nations. Gabon, Uganda, Zambia, Thailand, Chile, Russia, the Central African Republic, the United States of America, Angola, and Turkey exhibit average AQI scores ranging from 124 to 102. Each of these countries experiences notable challenges in maintaining good air quality.

Trends of the AQI in the year 2022

The graph shows the trends of the Air Quality Index (AQI) in the year 2022. It provides information about the average AQI scores for different countries across various months.
Trends of the Air quality index (AQI) in the year 2022

In July, Saudi Arabia experienced the highest average AQI score of 272, indicating severe air pollution during that month. Iran, Qatar, Uganda, and India also encountered significant air quality challenges, with average AQI scores ranging from 191 to 158.

Moving to August, Iraq witnessed a substantial increase in air pollution, with an average AQI score of 210. Other countries that faced significant air quality issues in August include India, Qatar, China, and the United Arab Emirates, with average AQI scores ranging from 187 to 170.

September marked a slight improvement in air quality for some countries. Ethiopia, China, and India showed average AQI scores of 167, 173, and 170, respectively, indicating ongoing air quality challenges but with a slight decrease compared to previous months. Other countries such as Iraq, Iran, and the United States of America also experienced air pollution concerns during this period.

Throughout the analyzed months, countries like Bangladesh, Bahrain, Russia, and Thailand consistently had average AQI scores of 141 to 128, highlighting the persistent air quality issues they faced during the year.

These trends demonstrate the varying levels of air pollution experienced by different countries throughout 2022. The fluctuations in average AQI scores across months indicate the dynamic nature of air quality and the need for continuous monitoring and mitigation efforts to address the underlying causes of air pollution. Analyzing these trends can assist policymakers and environmental organizations in implementing targeted measures to improve air quality and safeguard public health.

Trends of the AQI in the year 2023

The graph presents the Air Quality Index (AQI) trends for 2023, providing insights into the average AQI scores across different months and countries.

In April, China experienced the highest average AQI score of 504, indicating inferior air quality. Thailand, Chad, and India also faced significant air pollution challenges, with average AQI scores ranging from 380 to 332.

Moving to March, Thailand witnessed a high average AQI score of 380, highlighting ongoing air quality issues in the country. China, Burkina Faso, and Myanmar also encountered notable air pollution, with average AQI scores ranging from 327 to 298. Trends of the AQI in the year 2023

January marked a concerning period for air quality in China, with an average AQI score of 339. Other countries such as Burkina Faso, Iraq, and Central African Republic also experienced elevated average AQI scores, indicating deteriorating air quality.

Throughout the analyzed months, India consistently faced air pollution concerns, with average AQI scores ranging from 172 to 276. Countries such as Egypt, the United States of America, Chile, and Turkey also encountered significant air quality challenges during specific months.

These trends highlight the severity of air pollution in various countries during 2023. The high average AQI scores underscore the urgent need for robust measures to address the sources of air pollution and mitigate its adverse effects on public health and the environment.

Analyzing these AQI trends can assist policymakers, environmental agencies, and communities identify the most affected regions and prioritize targeted interventions to improve air quality. Implementing sustainable strategies, including emissions reduction, stricter regulations, and public awareness campaigns, is crucial to achieving cleaner and healthier air for everyone.

Hazardous Countries during 2022-23

The graph showed the AQI trends categorized by year, showcasing the average AQI scores for countries between 2022 and 2023. In 2022, the United Arab Emirates had the highest average AQI score of 686, indicating severe air pollution during that year. Other countries that experienced significant air quality challenges in 2022 include Iraq (450), India (380), Kuwait (371), and the United States of America (364).
Hazardous Countries during 2022-23 based on the AQI

Moving to 2023, China took the lead with an average AQI score of 547, highlighting the persistent air pollution issues faced by the country. Other countries with notable average AQI scores in 2023 include Chad (420), the United States of America (416), Thailand (408), and India (401).

These trends suggest that air pollution remained a significant concern in 2022 and 2023. Several countries, including China, India, the United States of America, and Iraq, consistently faced high levels of air pollution in both years.

It is crucial to address the sources of air pollution and implement effective measures to reduce emissions and improve air quality. Governments, environmental agencies, and communities should collaborate to develop and implement sustainable policies and initiatives to reduce pollution levels and safeguard public health.

Furthermore, these AQI trends by year emphasize the need for continued monitoring and assessment of air quality to identify areas of concern and track progress in pollution reduction efforts. By understanding each country's specific challenges, targeted interventions can be implemented to address the unique sources and causes of air pollution.

Ultimately, achieving cleaner air and improving air quality requires a comprehensive approach that combines regulatory measures, technological advancements, public awareness, and international cooperation to protect the well-being of individuals and the environment.

Related Posts

Trends of AQI for the next five years

The Air Quality Index (AQI) forecast for the next five years indicates some expected trends. According to the projections, the AQI is estimated to vary throughout this period. In 2024, the forecasted AQI starts at 54.85023 in January and gradually increases to 66.04027 in April before slightly declining.

During the summer, the AQI hovers around 56 to 60. As we move into 2025, the AQI remains relatively stable, with minor fluctuations, staying within the scope of 57 to 61. However, by 2026, there will be a slight decrease in AQI, ranging from 57 to 60. 

Trends of AQI for the next five years

This trend continues into 2027 and 2028, where the forecasted AQI fluctuates between 57 and 60. Overall, the projections suggest that the air quality will remain within a moderate range. However, specific factors and local conditions may still influence air quality levels.

Overall, while the ARIMA model provides some insights into the AQI forecast, it is essential to note that the accuracy metrics indicate some error and deviation from the actual values. These metrics can serve as a guide to assess the model's performance. Still, it is essential to consider other factors and sources of uncertainty that may affect the accuracy of the forecast.

There were a lot of factors that affected the air quality index. But in our study, data was limited

Limitations

Information provided earlier, it is essential to note that the dataset used in this study is limited to data from 2022 and 2023. This temporal limitation means that the analysis and insights derived from the dataset are specific to these two years and may not capture long-term trends or changes in air quality over a broader timeframe.

Conclusion

The Air Quality Index (AQI) is a valuable tool for understanding and monitoring air pollution levels. It empowers individuals to make informed decisions about their daily activities and take necessary steps to protect their health. As we move towards the future, it is imperative to prioritize air quality and work collaboratively to reduce pollution levels worldwide. 

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

What is AQI?

AQI stands for Air Quality Index, which measures air quality in a specific location.

How does poor air quality affect our health? 

Poor air quality can harm our health, leading to respiratory issues, cardiovascular problems, and an increased risk of chronic illnesses.

How can I check the air quality near me? 

You can check the air quality near you by accessing online resources or mobile applications that provide real-time air quality data.

What can individuals do to improve air quality? 

Individuals can contribute to cleaner air by reducing vehicle emissions, conserving energy, supporting sustainable practices, and advocating for policies that address air pollution.

Why is international collaboration important in addressing air pollution? 

Air pollution is a global issue that requires collective efforts. International collaboration allows for information sharing, data exchange, and coordinated actions to improve air quality worldwide.

# Load the data
library(readr)
df <- read_csv("data_date.csv")
df
colnames(df) <- c("Date", "Country", "Status", "AQI.Value")

library(tidyverse)
top_countries<-df %>% 
group_by(Country) %>%
  summarise(Avg_AQI = mean(AQI.Value, na.rm = TRUE)) %>%
  arrange(desc(Avg_AQI)) %>%
  top_n(20)

ggplot(top_countries) +
  aes(x = reorder(Country, -Avg_AQI, mean), y = Avg_AQI, fill = Country) +
  geom_col() +
  scale_fill_hue(direction = 1) +
  labs(
    x = "Top 20 Countries",
    y = "Air Quality Index (AQI)",
    title = "Top 20 Countries affected by high Air Quality Index (AQI)",
    subtitle = "Source: rstudiodatalab.com"
  ) +
  coord_flip() +
  theme_light() +
  theme(legend.position = "none")

# Trends of AQI
library(dplyr)

df<-df %>%
  mutate(Year = format(Date, "%Y"),
         Month = format(Date, "%m"))

## Trends of AQI in 2022

df%>% filter(Year==2022) %>% 
  group_by(Month, Country) %>%
  summarise(Avg_AQI = mean(AQI.Value, na.rm = TRUE)) %>%
  arrange(desc(Avg_AQI)) %>%
  top_n(20) %>% 
  ggplot() +
  aes(x = Month, y = Avg_AQI, fill = Month) +
  geom_col() +
  scale_fill_hue(direction = 1) +
  theme_minimal() +
  facet_wrap(vars(Country), scales = "free_y")+
  labs(
    x = "Month",
    y = "Average Air Quality Index (AQI)",
    title = "Comparison of Top 20 Countries by Month During 2022",
    subtitle = "Source: rstudiodatalab.com"
  )

## Trends in 2023

df%>% filter(Year==2023) %>% 
  group_by(Month, Country) %>%
  summarise(Avg_AQI = mean(AQI.Value, na.rm = TRUE)) %>%
  arrange(desc(Avg_AQI)) %>%
  top_n(20)%>% 
  ggplot() +
  aes(x = Month, y = Avg_AQI, fill = Month) +
  geom_col() +
  scale_fill_hue(direction = 1) +
  theme_minimal() +
  facet_wrap(vars(Country), scales = "free_y")+
  labs(
    x = "Month",
    y = "Average Air Quality Index (AQI)",
    title = "Comparison of Top 20 Countries by Month During 2023",
    subtitle = "Source: rstudiodatalab.com"
  )


# Catrgorization of Countries

library(dplyr)

# Group the data by Country and count the number of unique years
country_year_counts <-  df %>% 
group_by(Country) %>%
  summarise(Unique_Years = n_distinct(year(Date)))

# Filter countries with data for both 2022 and 2023
selected_countries <-country_year_counts %>% 
  filter(Unique_Years >= 2)
# Filter the original dataframe for the selected countries
filtered_df <-df %>% filter(Country %in% selected_countries$Country)
filtered_df
filtered_df[,-1]%>%  filter(Status=="Hazardous") %>% 
  group_by(Year, Country) %>%
  summarise(Avg_AQI = mean(AQI.Value, na.rm = TRUE)) %>%
  arrange(desc(Avg_AQI)) %>%
  ggplot() +
  aes(x = Year, y = Avg_AQI, fill = Year) +
  geom_col() +
  scale_fill_hue(direction = 1) +
  theme_minimal() +
  facet_wrap(vars(Country), scales = "free_y")+
  labs(
    x = "Year",
    y = "Average Air Quality Index (AQI)",
    title = "Hazardous Countries 2022-2023",
    subtitle = "Source: rstudiodatalab.com"
  )



# Good to live

filtered_df[,-1]%>%  filter(Status=="Good") %>% 
  group_by(Year, Country) %>%
  summarise(Avg_AQI = mean(AQI.Value, na.rm = TRUE)) %>%
  arrange((Avg_AQI)) %>%top_n(20) %>% 
  ggplot() +
  aes(x = Year, y = Avg_AQI, fill = Year) +
  geom_col() +
  scale_fill_hue(direction = 1) +
  theme_minimal() +
  facet_wrap(vars(Country), scales = "free_y")+
  labs(
    x = "Year",
    y = "Average Air Quality Index (AQI)",
    title = "Good to live Countries 2022-2023",
    subtitle = "Source: rstudiodatalab.com"
  )


#Map

library(ggplot2)
library(maps)
# Filter data for the top countries with average AQI scores
countries<-df %>%  
  filter(Country %in% selected_countries$Country) %>% 
  group_by(Country, Year) %>%
  summarise(Avg_AQI = mean(AQI.Value, na.rm = TRUE)) %>%
  arrange(desc(Avg_AQI)) %>%
  top_n(20)

# Load the world map data
world_map  
%>% filter(Year=="2023") %>% 
arrange(desc(Avg_AQI)) %>%
  head(5)
# Filter the countries with the best AQI (top 5)
countries %>%filter(Year=="2023") %>% 
  arrange(Avg_AQI) %>%
  head(5)

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About the Author

Ph.D. Scholar | Certified Data Analyst | Blogger | Completed 5000+ data projects | Passionate about unravelling insights through data.

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