CERC — Environmental Software and Services

Air quality in urban areas

Nesting of ADMS-Urban in regional models[top]


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Systems to nest the ADMS family of local air dispersion models in regional models are under development at CERC. Preliminary versions of the nesting system have been used for modelling London, with ADMS-Urban as the local model and either CMAQ (Stocker et al.,2012) or EMEP4UK as the regional model. Additional development of the system is currently being funded by the Hong Kong Environmental Protection Department, in order to generate a practical nesting system for use in air quality assessments in Hong Kong. This work is being carried out in collaboration with researchers from the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology.

The ADMS-Urban Regional Model Link, which is the automated system for nesting ADMS-Urban in the regional air quality models CAMx, CMAQ and EMEP4UK, is now available for use by other organisations. The system is designed to be developed to be compatible with additional regional models, please contact CERC if you would like to use the ADMS-Urban RML with output from a different regional model.

The aim of a nesting system is to combine the advantages of regional and local models to improve the prediction of concentration values for all types of receptors. Regional (usually Eulerian) models contain complex chemistry mechanisms, which can operate over long spatial and temporal scales, and can model the accumulation of concentrations in very low wind speed conditions. The gridded nature of their emissions data and dispersion calculations, however, does not allow them to match the high gradients of concentration found in the immediate vicinity of an individual source such as a road. Local (usually Gaussian-type plume) models can represent the fine-scale concentration gradients from explicitly defined sources in detail, but generally only include simplified chemical mechanisms and spatially homogeneous meteorological data, limiting their applicability for receptors far from the source (typically defined as > 50 km). They are also of limited applicability in very low wind speed conditions. Nesting a local model within a regional model can allow both high resolution of concentration gradients close to a source, and accurate representation of transport and chemistry over larger spatial and temporal scales. It is important, however, to design the nesting system to minimise the double-counting of emissions modelled in both the regional and local models.

MACC-III: Monitoring atmosphere composition and climate[top]

MACC-III is an EU-funded collaborative project coordinated by the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF) and operated by a consortium of 36 members from 13 countries. MACC-III is the final project in a series of projects (MACC, MACC-II) that began in 2009. During Summer/Autumn 2015 there will be a smooth transition from MACC-III to the EU’s fully operational Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service (CAMS), which has secured funding until at least 2020.

MACC-III/CAMS combines state-of-the-art atmospheric modelling with Earth observation data to provide

  • air quality forecasts for Europe;
  • global atmospheric chemical composition forecasts and analyses;
  • global climate forcing information services, for example forecasts and analyses of carbon dioxide, methane, ozone and aerosol forcing;
  • global forecasts and analyses of stratospheric ozone (the “ozone layer”) and ground-level UV radiation;
  • global solar radiation forecasts and analyses for the solar energy industry;
  • global emissions inventories, surface fluxes of carbon dioxide and methane, and daily estimates of the emissions of aerosols, chemical species and greenhouse gases from wild fires.

CERC’s role in MACC-III is as part of the ‘User Interface’ team, whose overall goal is to achieve the best possible use of MACC-III data and products by its users, through

  • the understanding of user requirements and the coordination of user involvement in service specification and evaluation;
  • the definition, creation and serving of metadata compliant to European standards enabling interoperability of MACC-III services;
  • the coordination of project communications;
  • the coordination of training activities.

MACC-III website: www.copernicus-atmosphere.eu/

PASODOBLE: PROMOTE Air Quality Services integrating Observations - Development Of Basic Localised Information for Europe[top]

PASODOBLE is an EU-funded collaborative 7th Framework Programme project with 21 partners coordinated by DLR. It has a number of key objectives focusing on improving air quality in the EU through:

  • Evolution of existing and development of new sustainable air quality services for Europe on regional and local scales;
  • Development and testing of a framework for the coordination of input data and  customizable user-friendly access to services;
  • Promotion and harmonisation of best practice tools for air quality forecasting.

CERC’s main role is the coordination of one of the four PASODOBLE services namely: local forecast model evaluation support service for local authorities and city bodies. This involves the development of a web-based air quality forecasting evaluation service. The other services are health community support services for people at risk, hospitals, pharmacies and doctors; public air quality forecasting for regions, cities, the tourist industry and sporting event organisers, and support services for compliance with the EU limit values for regional environment agencies. CERC also has a significant role in the public air quality support service through the development and use of the air quality forecasting system airTEXT with a focus on the London Olympic Games in 2012.

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GENESIS: GENeric European Sustainable Information Space for Environment[top]

The object of the GENESIS project is to provide Environment management and Health actors with an efficient solution based on advanced ICT to constitute collaborative information networks, integrating existing systems. The proposed solution is based on a thematic-neutral and open information system set up framework made of web services, portal components and toolkits. This framework can be easily customized for various thematic fields e.g. air quality, water quality, and deployed in many contexts (regional, European...).


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CERC are working with the University of the West of Scotland and Imperial College of Science, Technology & Medicine on an air quality thematic pilot based on London. The air quality thematic activity focuses on developing and evaluating health applications based on GMES geo-spatial air quality mapping services. The London pilot considers local scale air quality, different target groups and delivery modes e.g. web, GIS.

Supported by the EU 7th Framework.

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PROMOTE: PROtocol MOniToring for the GMES service Element Atmosphere[top]


CERC's forecasting systems for London (www.airtext.info) and Vienna were developed under the ESA-funded PROMOTE programme. They are described further in the Air quality forecasting section. PROMOTE is a programme on air quality and ultraviolet forecasting at the European, national and local scales.

The forecasts of regional background concentration that are used by ADMS-Urban make use of satellite and ground based measurements and a range of models for different spatial scales. ADMS-Urban is then used to provide high resolution local forecasts.

The project is sponsored by the European Space Agency/Framework 6 Global Monitoring for the Environment and Security programme (GMES).

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Dispersion modelling of air pollution in urban areas of the UK (I and II)[top]

Between 2001 and 2006 CERC was commissioned by DEFRA to carry out these major studies, modelling air quality in urban areas of the United Kingdom using ADMS-Urban. The project involved detailed modelling of NO2, PM10, PM2.5 and ozone for current and future years in London, Glasgow, Cardiff and Belfast. Extensive emissions inventory work was undertaken and there was considerable model verification and sensitivity analysis. The projects also included source apportionment, options appraisal and local dispersion at airports.

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  • Comparison of ADMS-Urban, NETCEN and ERG air quality predictions for London(.pdf, <1MB)
  • Modelling air quality for London using ADMS-Urban(.pdf, 9MB)
  • Source apportionment for London using ADMS-Urban(.pdf, 17MB)
  • Validation and sensitivity studies of ADMS-Urban for London(.pdf, <1MB)

TRAPOS: Optimisation of modelling methods for TRAffic POllution in Streets

Research for TRAPOS was undertaken as part of an EU sponsored research training network. CERC's role included developments of theoretical models for traffic induced turbulence and the development of formalised scientific model evaluation procedures.

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STOPP: Simulation TOols for Pollutant Prediction[top]

Research for STOPP was undertaken as part of an EU sponsored research training network.

CERC's contribution included comparison and practical implementation of a range of chemical reaction sets including the CBMIV reaction set that can now be used as an advanced option in ADMS-Urban.

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Reviews on Urban Dispersion for ADMLC[top]

CERC conducted a review of ‘Dispersion from Accidental Releases in Urban Areas’ in 2003 and also subsequently contributed to ‘A review of urban dispersion modelling’ in 2013. Both reviews were conducted for ADMLC (Atmospheric Dispersion Liaison Committee).

The 2003 report considers dispersion from localised sources released suddenly, or over longer periods, in urban areas, together with the related air flow and meteorology. It considers these phenomena and their modelling over the three spatial ranges relevant to urban areas, namely mesoscale, neighbourhood and building/street scales. The report reviews current understanding, experimental and numerical simulation data and the relative merits of different modelling approaches.

The 2013 report focuses on advances in the understanding of urban meteorology and dispersion from localised sources in urban areas, with special emphasis on recent developments since the 2003 review.

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