Air quality videos

Air Quality Health Index (AQHI) - "What are you Breathing today?"

Know the quality of the air around you everyday of the year, wherever you are. Learn more about the Air Quality Health Index (AQHI), how air quality can affect your health and when to be active outdoors. Look for the AQHI in your weather updates and check air quality online.

Air Quality Health Index "What are you breaking" video thumbnail

Length: 73 seconds

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Air Quality and Weather Animations:

The following is a series of three short animations that explain how the weather can affect air quality. The animations illustrate the concepts of thermal inversions, in which a layer of warm air aloft can trap pollutants near the ground; the effect of topography, where pollutants can be trapped in valleys; and long-range transport, where pollutants are carried by the wind over long distances.  The information is presented in the form of a story with animated characters, accompanied by graphics to illustrate various weather conditions and their influence on air quality.

Thermal Inversions - "An Upside Down Morning"

An animation illustrating the concept of thermal inversions, and how they can affect air quality. 

Thermal inversions.

Length: 90 seconds

Play video | More about thermal inversions.


Graphic: An Upside-down Morning

Lisa in her house with a dog

Narrator - This morning, Lisa really wants to visit her friend Sam, who lives in the mountains.

Lisa goes outside

Walking dog on the street

Narrator - Brrr… it’s so cold outside!

Cell phone rings

Graphic: Text message

From Sam

Hi Lisa, I'm waiting for you.  It's really warm up here.  I'm wearing a tee shirt.

Narrator - That’s strange. Why is it so cold down here and so warm up there? The weather is upside down today.

Lisa checks cell phone

Narrator - She needs to understand what is going on.

City with cars and buildings releasing pollutants

Narrator - In the city, air pollution is caused by:

  • Transportation
  • Industrial activity, and
  • Wood heating in homes

Layers in the atmosphere above the city




Arrows show rising air

Narrator - Normally, the air near the ground is warmer than the air higher up. Since warm air is lighter than cold air, it rises.

So, air pollutants rise with the warm air and are blown away by the wind.

Layers in the atmosphere above city





Lid moves over city

Pollution builds up under lid

Narrator - Thermal inversions, which occur most often in winter, change all this. Imagine a big lid of warm air placed over the city. So now the air trapped near the surface is cooler than the air higher up.

Lid moves to side of mountain

Sam is warm above the lid

Narrator - Since cold air doesn’t rise, the pollutants become trapped under the lid, just like in a pot!  When this happens, it can be warmer up on the mountain than it is in the city.

So that’s why Sam is warm!

Graphic: Text  message

To Sam

I will come tomorrow.  Look at:

Lisa and dog go inside

Narrator - Lisa decides not to drive her car today, since that will add to the build-up of pollutants.

Lisa talks to mother, who is holding fire logs

Unintelligible high-speed conversation

Narrator - She even convinces her mother not to use her wood stove today.

Topography - "A View on Smog"

An animation illustrating the effect of topography on weather and air quality.

Effect of terrain on weather and air quality.

Length: 60 seconds

Play video | More about topography.


Graphic: A View on SMOG

Lisa walks along the top of a mountain

Narrator - Today, Lisa is spending the day in the mountains.

Village covered with smog in the valley

Narrator - From the top, she notices a village below blanketed by a smoky haze that looks like smog.

Checking cell phone

Narrator - Strange, when she left home this morning, she checked the website.

City on the plain

Arrows show wind blowing over city

Narrator - It said the air quality was currently good, thanks to strong winds blowing pollutants away from the city.

Village in the valley

Narrator - Suddenly, she realizes that the city where she lives is on the plains and that the village below is in a valley between two mountains.

Village in the valley at night

Narrator - During the night, colder air sinks to the bottom of the valley. The colder air can’t rise and traps the pollutants in the valley. Unlike Lisa’s city on the plains, the village in the valley is sheltered from the wind, so the pollution is not blown away. So, air pollution also depends on the lay of the land!

Long-range Transport - "Far-reaching Smog"

An animation illustrating the concept of long-range transport: how air pollutants can be carried by the wind and weather systems over long distances. 

Long range transport.

Length: 60 seconds

Play video | More about long-range transport.


Graphic: Far-reaching SMOG

Lisa checks cell phone

Graphic: Samuel

Smog warning!

High smog levels forecast.

Narrator - Lisa is intrigued by an instant message from a friend. He said there will be a lot of air pollution in the city over the next few days.

Walking dog outside

Leaves blowing past

Narrator - And yet, this morning, when she was walking her dog, it was windy. Wouldn't the wind blow air pollutants away?

Lisa checks cell phone

Photos of forest fires

Narrator - She checks, sees a smog warning and immediately understands. The smoke particles come from forest fires burning thousands of kilometres away. The wind will carry the particles all the way to her city.

Rain falling outside

Narrator - A few drops of rain? Nothing better to wash the particles out of the air.

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