High Resolution Forecasting of Air Quality and Exposure for Healthier Cities (HiRAE)

Lead Research Organisation: University of Hertfordshire
Department Name: School of Physics, Astronomy and Maths

Abstract

The University of Hertfordshire and the National Centre for Atmospheric Science currently operate an Air Quality forecasting system. Like a weather forecast, the system uses a computer model to make predictions of the concentrations of air pollutants such as Ozone, Particulate Matter and Nitrogen Oxides. The forecast runs for the whole of the UK and predicts three days into the future and it produces maps of each pollutant at a spatial resolution of 10km.

Alongside the Air Quality Forecasting capability the University of Hertfordshire has also developed models and expertise in modelling air quality in urban areas. Air Quality can be highly influenced by the regional and national scale effects predicted by the Air Quality forecast but it is also influenced by very local effects such as emissions from traffic on a particular road, the local weather and even the local buildings and landscape. For this reason we have a separate system for urban areas which operates at a very high resolution. The urban system uses data that describes the pollution from individual roads for example. This urban model also has data to describe where people live and work so we can calculate pollutant concentrations in different parts of a city and at different times of day, then use that information to estimate the 'exposure' to pollution faced by the local population where they live and work. Because 'exposure' combines both pollutant levels and the time people spend in polluted areas, it is allows us to understand the likely health impact air pollution is having on the population.

In this project we will forecast air quality and exposure for two urban areas, Greater Manchester and Bristol. The unique innovations in the project are to bring air quality and exposure forecasts down to the street and city scales, whilst making all the data available to the local authorities for the first time.

To do this we will continue to operate the UK Air Quality Forecast and feed its predictions into the urban scale model. This will allow us to create pollution maps, a three day forecast and exposure estimates at a local scale for Bristol and Greater Manchester. The data will allow the local authorities to study air quality trends and statistics and find low pollution routes for cyclists and pedestrians. They will be able to use the data to make better planning decisions, improve education schemes and optimise pollution reduction measures to have the greatest impact. The delivery of exposure data alongside pollution concentrations is especially important for maximising the effectiveness of strategies to improve health.

We will make all of the model data available to the local authorities by creating an online data dashboard. This will allow the local authorities access to all the model data via an easy to use graphical user interface. By creating the data dashboard we will remove a barrier currently preventing wider exploitation of air quality model data and unlock the potential benefits of modeled air quality data to local authorities and the general public.

This project will directly address the needs of Local Authorities to meet their statutory responsibility to monitor and manage Air Quality. The responsibility for meeting EU air quality limit values is devolved to them. Our Local Authority partners, Bristol and Greater Manchester, attribute the premature death of approximately 200 and 1300 people annually to Air Quality respectively. This project will help the Bristol and Greater Manchester authorities by underpinning and informing their strategies for improving health and reducing air pollution with new, unique datasets. This data will allow the Local Authorities to optimally implement new and exiting initiatives such as promoting cycling, walking and public transport, managing goods vehicle, traffic management, low emission zones, planning guidance and education and informing the public of Air Quality health risks.

Planned Impact

The aim of this project is to create new data of direct applicability to local authority air quality officers. This project bridges a longstanding knowledge gap that has existed within the local authority community in not having access to state of art air pollution and exposure model products. Such products are critical for increasing the effectiveness of air pollution management plans and hence ensuring greater public good. Our project will facilitate better informed transport and urban planning, provide information to at risk groups so that they understand how to minimise their exposure to air pollution and provide evidence for statutory air quality monitoring of AQMAs. The forecast products will provide new essential data to help local authorities meet and exceed their AQMA responsibilities where they have a statutory responsibility to monitor air quality and to deliver the education, policy and developments described in their Air Quality Action Plans.

Local Authorities invest heavily in efforts to encourage a shift away from unsustainable transport practises. Promotion of 'smarter' travel choices, Cycling and Walking are common themes in all Local Authority Air Quality Action Plans. Travel planning awareness campaigns and car clubs for example are used to encourage, walking, cycling and public transport use. The mapped local air quality data and population exposure estimates produced by this project will help identify areas and communities at highest risk to air pollution and an evidence base which will incentivise change in correctly targeted areas through public awareness, education and participation. We anticipate that initiatives driven by our project data will reduce the risk of Air Quality related illness and the burden on local health services. Presently Bristol and Greater Manchester estimate that there are approximately 200 and 1300 premature deaths respectively due to air pollution each year. Optimised strategies to reduce exposure to air pollution developed with data from this project will help to reduce the major burden air pollution places on the National Health Service.

Forecasts delivered via the data dashboard will allow local air quality officers to deliver better-informed local policy with respect to transport and infrastructure planning to reduce public health burden of air pollution. Better understanding of the geographical distribution of air pollutants is of crucial importance for policy makers who are seeking to improve air quality through AQMAs. Concerns about the contribution of traffic emissions from the M60 and M62 in Greater Manchester have recently been highlighted (HoC EAC 2014), while Bristol is similarly effected by the M32, these nationally important roads are outside of the control of local authorities but contribute a significant pollution burden. Using our mapped model data Greater Manchester authorities will be better placed to monitor and seek help addressing the impact of these motorways.

There will also be tangible benefits to UH and to NCAS and the wider science community in having the latest NERC science feeding into activities leading to the greater public good. Scientifically, it places UH, NCAS and NERC air quality science at the forefront of the air quality forecasting activities nationally and internationally. This project will be one of very few, if not the first, to deliver high resolution daily forecasts of exposure at street level with large scale impact in terms of reduced health impact of city populations.

Publications

10 25 50
 
Description The needs of the partners was discussed at length and the forecasting system was designed to meet their requirements. Road network, traffic flows and emissions files were provided by the partners as originally agreed and were used as input to the OSCAR system. OSCAR System was coupled with WRF-CMAQ and made operational to deliver PM2.5 and NOx forecasts. While general population data was available, detailed activity patterns were not. However, the model structure was developed to produce exposure fields as and when local data becomes available. The forecast system operates routinely to deliver daily forecasts for use by the local partners. Forecasts are produced for a three day period for PM2.5, PM10, NO2 and NOx. A website has been created for the purposes of the partners. Meetings (face to face and teleconference) have taken place with NCAS and DEFRA along with our city partners. Results from the OSCAR-WRF-CMAQ system for the partner cities were also presented at the International Conference on Air Quality held in Milan, 14-18 March 2016 and at the IAQM Dispersion Modelling Users Group (DMUG) annual meeting, 19 April 2016. Almost all of the objectives have been met fully.
Exploitation Route Objective 4 was partially fulfilled as there was lack of local population activity data needed to calculate population exposure statistics. However, the model structure is flexible to incorporate this dataset as and when it becomes available. The project partners are fully aware of the need to acquire population activity data and will inform us when it is available.
Sectors Environment,Government, Democracy and Justice

 
Description During the project a number of discussions have taken place with Bristol City Council and Transport for Greater Manchester to define their needs related to air quality forecasting. A modelling forecasting system has been developed for their specific applications. They now have the capability and they are assessing it use for their internal purposes.
Sector Environment,Government, Democracy and Justice,Transport
Impact Types Policy & public services

 
Description Collaboration is ongoing with Bristol City Council and Transport for Greater Manchester on air quality forecasting at city scales. 
Organisation Bristol City Council
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution CAIR at the University of Hertfordshire has developed an air quality forecasting system for Bristol and Manchester. It forecasts hourly concentrations of PM2.5, PM10 and NO2 at street scales. The design of the system was agreed with Bristol City Council and Transport for Greater Manchester.
Collaborator Contribution Bristol City Council and Transport for Greater Manchester provided the traffic and local air quality data for their cities.
Impact • A new and operational High Resolution Air Quality Forecasting System for Bristol and Greater Manchester. • Continuing daily access to City Scale Air Quality Forecasts • An online data analysis and retrieval tool driven by the Air Quality Forecast Archive to aid Air Quality Management • Mapped Air Pollution Data at High resolution • Air Quality Management Statistics for any location within Greater Manchester and Bristol • An Air Quality Data Archive from 2015 to the present day of modelled Air Pollutant concentrations. These include predicted values for o Total NO2, NOx, PM10. PM2.5 o Traffic contribution to NO2, NOx, PM10, PM2.5 o Regional contributions to NO2 NOx, PM10, PM2.5 o Air Quality Index and speciated index values for NO2, SO2, O3, Particulate Matter.
Start Year 2015
 
Description Collaboration is ongoing with Bristol City Council and Transport for Greater Manchester on air quality forecasting at city scales. 
Organisation Transport for Greater Manchester
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution CAIR at the University of Hertfordshire has developed an air quality forecasting system for Bristol and Manchester. It forecasts hourly concentrations of PM2.5, PM10 and NO2 at street scales. The design of the system was agreed with Bristol City Council and Transport for Greater Manchester.
Collaborator Contribution Bristol City Council and Transport for Greater Manchester provided the traffic and local air quality data for their cities.
Impact • A new and operational High Resolution Air Quality Forecasting System for Bristol and Greater Manchester. • Continuing daily access to City Scale Air Quality Forecasts • An online data analysis and retrieval tool driven by the Air Quality Forecast Archive to aid Air Quality Management • Mapped Air Pollution Data at High resolution • Air Quality Management Statistics for any location within Greater Manchester and Bristol • An Air Quality Data Archive from 2015 to the present day of modelled Air Pollutant concentrations. These include predicted values for o Total NO2, NOx, PM10. PM2.5 o Traffic contribution to NO2, NOx, PM10, PM2.5 o Regional contributions to NO2 NOx, PM10, PM2.5 o Air Quality Index and speciated index values for NO2, SO2, O3, Particulate Matter.
Start Year 2015
 
Title HiRAE Air Quality Forecasting System 
Description 1) HiRAE Air Quality Forecasting System An automated high resolution air quality forecast for London, Bristol and Greater Manchester 2) HiRAE Data Dashboard A bespoke online data archive and data retrieval service to allow access and analysis of air quality data in London, Bristol and Manchester by local authorities. 
Type Of Technology Software 
Year Produced 2016 
Impact Results are being included in internal startegy and discussions for city scale air quality forecasting. 
URL http://stri-cluster.herts.ac.uk/~aqforecast/HiRAE/HiRAE.html
 
Description HiRAE project 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact 1) AQ Conference - A talk or presentation or debate
2) DMUG Meeting - A talk or presentation or debate
3) HiRAE Workshop - Event, workshop or similar
4) US-UK Meeting - A talk or presentation or debate
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015,2016
URL http://stri-cluster.herts.ac.uk/~aqforecast/HiRAE/HiRAE.html