Process analysis, observations and modelling - Integrated solutions for cleaner air for Delhi (PROMOTE)

Lead Research Organisation: University of Manchester
Department Name: Earth Atmospheric and Env Sciences


Title: Process analysis, observations and modelling - Integrated solutions for cleaner air for Delhi (PROMOTE)

Air pollution has been widely recognized as a major global health risk. Given that 1 in every 10 total deaths can be attributed to air pollution (World Bank 2016), there are major implications for the cities of the world. As part of the Indo-Gangetic Plain (IGP), Delhi is subject to air pollution from a complex mixture of sources. As a consequence of the complex emissions and meteorology of the region, particulate matter (PM as PM10 and PM2.5), nitrogen oxides (NOx, NO2), sulphur dioxide (SO2), carbon monoxide (CO) and black carbon (BC) all peak during post-monsoon periods and remain elevated during winter making the National Capital Region (NCR) one of the most polluted areas. Open questions remain regarding the inability of models to accurately predict air pollution during winter time fog events and quantifying incoming air pollution from large distances into Delhi.

Over 4 years, PROMOTE aims to reduce uncertainties in air quality prediction and forecasting for Delhi by undertaking process orientated observational and modelling analyses and to derive the most effective mitigation solutions for reducing air pollution over the urban and surrounding region. PROMOTE brings together a cross-disciplinary team of leading researchers from India and the UK to deliver the project aims. Its investigations will address three key questions:
Q1 What contribution is made by aerosols to the air pollution burden in Delhi?
Q2 How does the lower atmospheric boundary layer affect the long range transport of air pollution incoming into Delhi?
Q3 What are the most effective emission controls for mitigation interventions that will lead to significant reductions in air pollution and exposure levels over Delhi and the wider National Capital Region?

To address the three key questions we will:
1 Examine the contribution of secondary aerosols to the air pollution burden in Delhi during distinct meteorological seasons by developing a new representative model scheme for subtropical urban environments;
2 Investigate how boundary layer interactions lead to high air pollution events during pre-monsoon and stable winter fog periods affecting Delhi;
3 Quantify local, urban and regional contributions to Delhi's air quality through an improved understanding of aerosols, long-range transport and boundary layer processes;
4 Test the Delhi's air quality forecasting system incorporating improved understanding of aerosol pollution and atmospheric boundary layer processs;
5 Develop the first multiscale modelling system for predicting high resolution concentrations of PM2.5, PM10, NO2 and other pollutants and then provide the analysis for developing effective mitigation strategies for Delhi;
6 Synthesise and translate the outcomes of PROMOTE with other APHH projects to provide datasets for exposure and health studies and contribute to a roadmap for implementing effective local and regional mitigation strategies to meet current and future compliance and health requirements in Delhi and NCR.

Through our analysis, we will deliver new knowledge on how local, urban and regional (LRT) sources of air pollution affect Delhi's air quality. With an improved understanding of aerosols and lower atmosphere dynamics, sensitivities between air pollutant concentrations and changes in local (e.g. traffic, industrial) and regional contributions will be quantified with a new multiscale modelling system for recommending interventions and mitigation options for Delhi.

Planned Impact

Air pollution in cities such as Delhi is particularly acute and affects citizens on a daily basis. It has an impact in every aspect of peoples' lives including their health, travel, work, leisure and social interaction. In order to develop solutions to curtail impacts of air pollution, a multisectoral approach is required involving the public, transport, Industries, construction, civic services, public health and regulatory bodies. Our pathways to impact plan takes such an approach and seeks to involve a range of stakeholders including public groups, local and governmental policymakers as well as scientists through the pathways outlined below.

We will engage with stakeholders in the following ways:
2.1 Local city officers, national and regional policymakers
Local government officers will benefit from information on high resolution concentrations of air pollutants and how they relate to local situations such as congested road, industrial activities and domestic and personal life styles. UK and Indian partners will jointly produce an executive summary for policy makers in year 1, mid-term and a final document in year 4, for example on recommendations to support the development of air pollution mitigation policies and action plans for the NCR through WP5 activities. This document will be widely disseminated through the project website, and email followed up with a dissemination workshop in years 2 and 4 for key stakeholders. We will contribute to improvement of the SAFAR programme and we will exploit the existing links through this programme to inform local government policy makers. Measures of success: A key measure will be the use of scientific outputs to inform local and national policy briefings and scientific assessments.

2.2 Science community
One day science workshops will be held back to back with our project meetings and we will invite key scientists from MoES and NERC, universities and the wider science community. We will exploit our current involvement in international science projects and assessment programmes to directly influence the international science agenda through major activities such as CMIP6, AQMEII and HTAP. Science results from the project will be presented at major international conferences such as the International Air Quality Conference, and meetings of EGU, IGAC and AGU. For capacity building of young researchers in India, training workshops on Air Quality and Climate Modelling will be organized and held at IITM. Measures of success: A key measure will be citations of the papers and the use of the publications to support the development of mitigation and policy interventions.

2.3 General public and media communication
We will target media, press agencies, policy makers, business, schools and colleges and the general public through our existing institutional press offices and outreach programmes. The involvement of the public will be encouraged by
communication of air quality related information through social media and regular media announcement to raise awareness of the project and its outcomes. Press releases will be issued both in the UK and India during key stages of the project, and to coincide with major pollution episodes in Delhi (typically in December/January) to maximise the reach of our project results. Partner institutions take part in national and regional science festivals and regularly give talks to schools and local societies. One day workshops organised by IRADe with other partners for media, researchers, school teachers, NGOs and policy makers will be organized to develop awareness about the impact of poor air quality, mitigation initiatives and also to provide an update about the achievements of PROMOTE. Measures of success: Key success measures will include press and media coverage, news releases, media interviews and engagement in public information events including at schools.


10 25 50
Description Regional coupled air quality and meteorology simulations have been conducted with the WRF-Chem model with a novel representation of organic aerosol (OA) to span observational constraints (both the organic aerosol contribution to particulate matter, PM, mass loadings and the oxygen to carbon ratio changes). An emulator of the module has been constructed. This emulator can run much more quickly than the complex model and so can be used to investigate the sensitivity ofpredictions to the uncertain parameters in the OA module. In collaboration with our partners in the Carslaw group in Leeds, this has enabled the WRF-Chem OA module to be optimised so that we can predict PM much more reliably.
The measurement constraint data have been submitted to a journal and are in open access discussion and are currently in peer review.
We have used the optimised parameters to define the OA module that we will pass on to our Indian partners running the SAFAR operational air quality model system, subject to the limitations of the host model.
In addition to this, with other Indian project partners, we have identified a new source of atmospheric chlorine pollution from waste burning. This has been published in a high profile journal (Nature Geoscience - see outputs associated with this grant) along with an editorial piece written by another of our Indian collaborators.
Exploitation Route The module for improved PM simulation (i.e. the optimised OA module) will be passed to our Indian collaborators at IITM to incorporate into their operational air quality modelling system for pollution event prediction and recommendations for mitigation. Subject to the limitations of the host model, this will directly improve their prediction of air quality and allow them to provide more reliable pollution hazard warnings and policy recommendations.
Our identification of the chlorine source from waste burning and its high profile publication is likely to enable our project to directly influence policy through our stakeholder engagement activities, both from the main UK PROMOTE project led from Hertfordshire and joint APHH activities. It has been communicated to both local and national Government through the partnership with the Ministry of Earth Sciences (MOES) and via our Indian partners' stakeholder activities.
Sectors Environment

Description Our recent findings (published Jan 2021) on the novel waste burning source os chlorine pollution in the air have been communicated with local and national Government in India through the Ministry of Earth Sciences and through stakeholder engagement activities with our Indian partners. The findings have been reported in Indian national media (e.g. and international media (e.g. Clean air is critical to the realisation of several of the UN SDGs, it is of particularly critical relevance to goal 3 (healthy lives and wellbeing), 11 (sustainable cities and communities) and 12 (responsible consumption and production) and policy response to our findings will make progress towards each. Delhi has been recognised as one of the world's most polluted cities, if not the worst, and cleaner air is critical to realisation of the SDGs. We have further notified our partners (Feb 2021) at IITM Delhi who run the SAFAR operational air quality prediction system, that our module for particulate matter (PM) prediction, developed in this project, is optimised for use in their system. This will deliver an improved local capability in air quality prediction to enable their better local warning and policy response. This will similarly inform delivery to the identified SDGs. The Covid response has derailed several of the stakeholder engagement activities to fully recognise the potential of our impact delivery, but we are better placed than anticipated to provide further impact delivery by the 2022 project end date. Note that the project was already well advanced at the time that Covid hit, so our outputs were not adversely affected, although the stakeholder engagement has been delayed somewhat by meeting cancellation. Subsequent to the 2021 entry, the optimisation of the PM module has been fully evaluated and the capabilities assessed. Several limitations to the structure of the host model have been identified in terms of the dynamical representation of the boundary layer and the activity profiles driving the emissions such that the confidence in the aerosol module cannot be relied upon. This is all subject to a detailed publication in preparation. Delivery of the PM module to our project partners will occur, but deployment in the operational system must be conditional on the recognition of the host model limitations. Additional Covid restrictions have more substantially affected stakeholder engagement events across the programme.
First Year Of Impact 2021
Sector Environment
Impact Types Societal

Description Training of project partner researchers on use of atmospheric instrumentation
Geographic Reach Local/Municipal/Regional 
Policy Influence Type Influenced training of practitioners or researchers
Impact We have trained postdoctoral and PhD student researchers at our partner organisation in the use of state-of-the-science air pollution monitoring instrumentation, enabling them for the first time to deploy such instruments in the ambient atmosphere. This will provide local expertise in air pollution science that would otherwise be reliant on external international partners.
Description Center of Excellence on Atmospheric and Climate Science
Amount ₹67,944,000 (INR)
Organisation Indian Institute of Technology Madras 
Sector Academic/University
Country India
Start 09/2022 
End 09/2024
Title Development of a model optimisation tool 
Description We have developed a methiodology for the optimisation of our organic aerosol (OA) module within the regional WRF-Chem model using Gaussian emulation across the full plausible parameter space and testing against ground-based measurements taken in the programme. It can be more generically employed for other datasets and other host models. 
Type Of Material Improvements to research infrastructure 
Year Produced 2020 
Provided To Others? No  
Impact As yet, the tool has only been internally exploited for the optimisation of the in-house organic aerosol module for delivery to the SAFIR platform of our Indian partners. As soon as it's effectiveness has been demonstrated and published in peer-reviewed journal, it will be available for broad use. 
Title Development of isothermal dilution method for retrieval of particle volatility 
Description Instrument enables successive dilution of sample air with ultrapure air at constant temperature to force the evaporation of semi-volatile components in ambient particles, thereby yielding information about the evaporation rate and hence volatility. 
Type Of Material Improvements to research infrastructure 
Year Produced 2018 
Provided To Others? No  
Impact Whilst the method is not yet published, nor yet available, it will be deployed for the first time in May 2018, with method description publication shortly thereafter and application publication as soon as practical. 
Title Expansion of measurement capability at IIT Madras 
Description In collaboration with the group of Dr Sachin Gunthe, we have deployed the Aerodyne Atmospheric Chemical Speciation Monitor and the Magee Scientific AE33 Aethelometer at the IITM Lodhi Road site in Delhi and at the IIT Madras Institute in Chennai. 
Type Of Material Improvements to research infrastructure 
Year Produced 2018 
Provided To Others? Yes  
Impact No impact as yet, but the expanded capacity at IIT Madris has led to improved pollution measurement capability and pending paper submission, with likely subsequent joint publications. The tools are continuously available to Dr Gunthe's group at IIT Madras. 
Title PROMOTE Organic Aerosol Module (sub-components also adapted and used for UDARA) 
Description We have put in place a new module for the description of primary and secondary organic aerosol within the WRF-Chem model, based on the widely used "volatility basis set" (VBS) approach. The primary organic aerosol is considered as either anthropogenic or biomass burning in origin and carried as two separate volatility distributions in the module. Secondary organic aerosol is derived from two biogenic and two anthropogenic surrogate precursors and each is considered in its own volatility distribution. All these components are carried in each of 8 size fractions in the MOSAIC aerosol module. 
Type Of Material Computer model/algorithm 
Year Produced 2018 
Provided To Others? No  
Impact The module is fully developed and tested. We are using it to create a Gaussian process emulator that will enable the parameters in the module to optimally reproduce the measured organic aerosol. The module will then be passed to our collaborators at IITM for adoption by the SAFAR operational air quality system. The same module will be used within the UDARA project on the Indonesian domain (though not using the emulator optimised parameters for India). 
Description Collaborative partnership with Indian Ministry of Earth Sciences (MoES) -funded researchers within the APHH Delhi programme 
Organisation Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology
Country India 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution Planned and conducted joint field experiments in Delhi, planned and conducted joint model developments
Collaborator Contribution Planned and conducted joint field experiments in Delhi, planned and conducted joint model developments. The module for the organic aerosol fraction of particulate matter (PM) was co-designed with our partners. We have used the emulator that we developed (see research tools section) to optimise the module within the host regional air quality model (WRF-Chem) to pass a reliable module to the SAFAR operational air quality prediction system that our partners operate (
Impact The collaboration is ongoing as long as the programme is active and likely beyond - the impacts on improved air quality warnings, predictive capability and ability to make informed policy recommendations will be continuous once the module is fully operational within the SAFAR system.
Start Year 2016
Description Collaborative partnership with partners at IIT Madras for measurement, analysis and interpretation within and beyond PROMOTE 
Organisation Indian Institute of Technology Madras
Country India 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution We have provided training for partners in the group of Dr Sachin Gunthe at IIT Madras in Manchester on a number of instruments that we then deployed in partnership with the group during PROMOTE intensive measurement experiments and subsequently at the host institution in Chennai. We have trained the partners in analysis of the data and helped with interpretation and preparation for publication.
Collaborator Contribution Partners have participated in training in Manchester and in joint field measurements in Delhi, followed by operation in Chennai. They have successfully adopted the data retrieval techniques that we have developed and jointly analysed data, ready for joint publication.
Impact Conference abstract submitted to the European Aerosol Conference (EAC) and manuscript in preparation
Start Year 2017
Description Project Progress and Engagement with Funding Agencies and Stakeholders, 8th and 9th December 2020 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact Owing to Covid, this was an online project meeting rather than the planned face-to-face programme-wide engagement meeting. The emerging and current results from this process-oriented project were presented to an audience of project investigators, project partners, funders (Ministry of Earth Sciences; MOES) and policymakers, with presentations on the socio-economic impacts of air pollution at the measured and modelled levels and recommendations for "win-win" strategies for Delhi air quality.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020