BACCUS: Big data for atmospheric chemistry and composition: Understanding and Science

Lead Research Organisation: University of York
Department Name: Chemistry


The atmosphere is composed to millions of chemical compounds. Each of these compounds can have distinct properties chemical and physical but also biological and medical. Our ability to understand these compounds is dependent upon the instrumentation available to us. New advances in instrumentation (high resolution GC-TOF systems) allow us to investigate the composition of the atmosphere in unprecedented detail. However, these new instruments provide a deluge of data that needs to be stored and process. By storing all of the data, rather than throwing away the data that is not yet understood we will create a virtual air archive which can be exploited into the future as our ability to understand the complex instrumentation and chemistry involved becomes more refined. BACCUS provides hardware to deal with this data deluge, provide software and computers to support to analyse and visualise the data and provides some computation to initially interpret the results.

Planned Impact

Who will benefit from this research?
Outside of the immediate academic beneficiaries the ability to create a virtual air archive will provide us with the capability of looking back at concentrations of compounds that we are currently unaware of in the atmosphere. We will be providing for the future measurements of the unknown unknowns. This will provide assistance in the fields of air quality and public health where we will be able to retro analyse for air quality concerns into the future. The change in future unknown toxic compounds would be measurable by our system.
This approach of virtual archives is used in fields such as drug testing etc but less so in environmental science. By leading the way we will be informing other environmental sectors.

How will they benefit from this research?
Within the group we host a joint NCAS / DEFRA employee Dr Sarah Moller. She provides an interface between UK Policy and our research. Prof Lewis sits on the Air Quality Expert Group which can again provide an interface on the air quality site. Prof Lucy Carpenter is currently a lead author on the WMO Ozone assessment and provides an interface with Montreal Protocol style policy work.


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Description A range of metrics for assessing air quality and climate models have been developed
Exploitation Route The techniques used are described in the papers which are part of the outputs.
Sectors Other