Integrated Research Observation System for Clean Air (OSCA)

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

Abstract

"Poor air quality is the largest environmental risk to Public Health in the UK" (DEFRA, 2017) and is consequently a focus of a range of regional and national policy interventions. However, since our transport systems, the way we heat our homes, our energy supply, our use of solvents and our agricultural systems are all changing, we know that profound changes in emissions and trends in air pollutants are likely in the coming years and indeed are already taking place. We need to understand our changing atmospheric composition, to ensure air quality policy has maximum benefit for the protection of human and environmental health.

The Clean Air: Analysis and Solutions Programme identifies the need for new capability to predict future changes in the sources, emissions and atmospheric processes responsible for air pollution. The OSCA project addresses this need through a multidisciplinary research activity, combining state-of-the-science atmospheric observations, laboratory studies, new data processing tools and integrated scientific synthesis to deliver new understanding of urban air pollution. OSCA will:

-Deliver improved quantification of emissions, combining lab measurements of brake & tyre wear sources, and measurements of the total fluxes of particulate matter (PM) and nitrogen dioxide (NO2) from the BT Tower in London. Non-exhaust emissions comprise up to 70% of traffic-derived PM10, are poorly quantified, and whose relative importance will increase with UK fleet decarbonisation. Real-world emission measurements underpin air quality predictions and avoid dependence upon manufacturer data.

-Provide a definitive, state-of-the-science assessment of UK urban air quality through exploitation of the new RCUK-funded urban air quality Supersites in London, Birmingham and Manchester to deliver comprehensive, continuous and long-term measurements of atmospheric composition. These data will characterise the changing UK pollution climate, identify subtle emission trends during implementation of regional air quality policies, and provide a key resource for evaluation of ongoing trends.

-Develop new mathematical analyses to identify emergent trends / responses to policies and apply these alongside established methods to address key science uncertainties - e.g.: to assess the trends and changing sources of NO2; to provide definitive quantification of the contributions of non-exhaust traffic, woodsmoke and cooking activities to PM; to identify trends in and contributions to ammonia emissions; to identify changes VOC emissions - precursors to ozone formation.

-Provide data and infrastructure to underpin the wider Clean Air Programme, including development and deployment of novel sensor networks (QUANT); data to validate models and health effect calculations (InSPIRE and DREaM); insight into air quality response to policy initiatives (ANTICIPATE); sensor testing and pollutant source identification (APEx).

-Enable community mobilisation through intensive field campaigns, targeted at understanding the changing gas-phase reactivity climate of the UK atmosphere (which governs production of secondary PM and ozone), and the sources and chemical composition of atmospheric aerosols.

OSCA findings will support policymakers through a range of established relationships the PIs already maintain. These include engagements within the supersite host cities, and links to relevant national bodies, including Defra, DfT, DoH, PHE and the EA. The OSCA deliverables provide important new data and novel scientific approaches central to the assessment of future changes in the sources, emissions and atmospheric processes governing air pollution in the UK - the core of WP1 of the Clean Air programme. OSCA is fully embedded into the wider programme, informing policy decisions, monitoring the impacts of decisions, and feeding public health research and outcomes.

Planned Impact

OSCA is an underpinning proposal to the UKRI Clean Air Programme and will deliver significant impact through support for multiple projects, whilst also generating wider impacts in its own right. The main direct beneficiaries of the research are the agencies invested in the activities of the programme, national and regional policy makers and public health professionals. Since the Met Office and STFC are delivering the Framework for Clean Air Analysis in WP4 they are clear beneficiaries of the outputs. The key stakeholders at national level are the Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs; the Department for Transport; and Public Health England. At regional level key stakeholders are the combined authorities in London; Manchester and Birmingham and Transport for Greater Manchester and Transport for London. PHE Consultants in the regions provide public health advice to regional government.

OSCA project outcomes result from PIs working closely with policy makers at regional and national level to identify key areas of concern. Emissions of NOx are of immediate and direct importance to UK air quality policy and evaluating on-going changes in emissions has direct policy relevance given the traffic fleet is changing rapidly. Whilst particulate traffic exhaust emissions are relatively well understood, the quantification of non-exhaust emissions that OSCA will deliver has direct benefit to national and regional policy making as the UK fleet electrifies and conventional exhaust emissions diminish. OSCA will provide policy makers with new information on the contributions to the urban mass burden from sources such as wood burning and cooking which can be used to base future decisions regarding PM control. OSCA will provide new data on urban ammonia and source attribution between agriculture and urban sources and so support policy makers in their prioritisation and strategies for reducing emissions.

Identifying the drivers of trends in pollutant concentrations and attributing changes to specific interventions and policies is extremely challenging, given the large number of confounders that exist. OSCA will develop approaches to tackle this problem, utilising a wide range of data currently available to assess the extent to which such causality can be attributed and will provide a framework for wider modelling work that will investigate this. Such tools will be widely disseminated for other stakeholders to use themselves.

OSCA measurements of the composition of air pollution, along with source attribution, will provide observational constraints to other projects within the Clean Air programme who are forecasting air quality, modelling policy interventions, assessing air quality sensor networks, measurement innovation, assessing exposure and identifying health impacts. The information and expertise from OSCA will therefore inform public health professionals investigating the health impacts of air quality in UK cities.

This work has the potential to generate significant impact with regional authorities in other areas of the UK, through the dissemination of findings, and the translation of tools. The project will seek out aspects of the research that have wider applicability to other cities and work to support decision-making more broadly in the UK.

Lastly, in many cases air quality improvements will not be delivered by policy alone but require public engagement, including technology uptake and behaviour change to deliver cleaner air. The willingness of the public to embrace change is very dependent on their knowledge of the problem, their trust in the solutions and engagement with the change process. By publicising our findings on local issues derived for example from local source apportionment, we have the potential to generate impact through region-specific public engagement, raising awareness of air pollution sources and the activities that drive emissions.

Publications

10 25 50
 
Description A core part of the OSCA project is operation of three Air Quality Supersites, to characterise the UK's background urban atmosphere, and detect new / emerging trends in air pollutions. The Manchester University Air Quality Supersite (MANUSS) was commissioned in 2018/2019, with first measurements starting in March 2019. It was officially opened in September 2019, jointly with the EPSRC funded Manchester Urban Observatory at a major networking event by the leader of Manchester City Council (Sir Richard Leese), the Chief Executive of Greater Manchester Combined Authority (Eamonn Boylan), and Professor Stephen Holgate, the UKRI Clean Air Champion. MANUSS is now beginning the period of high-quality, long-term observations essential to detect subtle changes in air composition - for example, relating to woodsmoke / biomass burning, cooking, non-exhaust road transport emissions, trends in agriculturally derived and anthropogenic ammonia - to inform future clean air policy development and hence the protection of public and environmental health.
MANUSS is hosting the UKRI CleanAir QUANT project to assess the performance of low cost sensors for air quality measurement. In addition, further sensor comparison work with a number of sensor manufacturers has been carried out. The site has acted as a test facility for a number of other projects within UoM using the EPSRC funded Manchester Urban Observatory investments and also external organisations. These have included the Catapult comparison project on behalf of DEFRA. Some of the instruments are being used as part of other NERC funded projects such as the BioArc project. There are plans for to sample nanoplastics for the nanomedicines lab. Other upcoming projects include calibrating sensors for a UAV project. MANUSS is now home to diffusion tube samples from DEFRA which will be changed monthly.
The data set is now being automatically ingested into the automatic air quality Manchester City Council network by Ricardo.

This is a long-term measurement programme, whose value increases exponentially with the duration of observations.
Exploitation Route numerous
- open access data
- ingesting data into national networks
- wider cleanair network
- interaction with TfGM and GMCA
Sectors Environment,Government, Democracy and Justice,Transport

 
Description The Manchester Air Quality Supersite (MANUSS) operated through the OSCA project has supported commercial air quality sensor development work through a number of private sector companies; hosts other UKRI CleanAir projects; provides TfGM and Manchester City Council with routine data automatically ingested into their own databases, and informs TfGM and MCC of the main contributions to sources of particulate mass.
First Year Of Impact 2019
Sector Environment,Government, Democracy and Justice,Transport
Impact Types Societal,Policy & public services

 
Description Air Quality Expert Group (Allan) DEFRA
Geographic Reach National 
Policy Influence Type Membership of a guideline committee
 
Description TfGM air quality
Geographic Reach Local/Municipal/Regional 
Policy Influence Type Membership of a guideline committee
 
Description Clean Air for Schools 
Organisation Koninklijke Philips Electronics N.V.
Department Philips
Country Global 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution Partnership between the University, the Phillips Foundation and Global Action Plan to develop a Clean Air for Schools project. The aim is to investigate the impacts on indoor air quality of installing air purification systems in 20 schools in Greater Manchester and at the same time increase awareness of poor air quality for school children
Collaborator Contribution Phillips provided the air purification systems and are involved in the project dsign
Impact ongoing
Start Year 2019
 
Description Global Action Plan 
Organisation Global Action Plan
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution Partnership between the University, the Phillips Foundation and Global Action Plan to develop a Clean Air for Schools project. The aim is to investigate the impacts on indoor air quality of installing air purification systems in 20 schools in Greater Manchester and at the same time increase awareness of poor air quality for school children. Role to measure air quality and to be involved in education and outreach
Collaborator Contribution Global Action Plan lead the project and liaise with schools across the region. GAP lead the outreach and engagement activities
Impact ongoing
Start Year 2019
 
Description Transport for Greater Manchester 
Organisation Transport for Greater Manchester
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution - Development of a long term relationship with TfGM. - provision of supersite data to TfGM on a routine basis. - Use of supersite to support sensor testing of TfGM partner equipment - Involvement in TfGM Bee Network consortium to investigate air quality in Levenshulme around interventions
Collaborator Contribution - Development of a long term relationship with TfGM. - provision of supersite data to TfGM on a routine basis - payment to ingest payment into data stream. - Use of supersite to support sensor testing of TfGM partner equipment - provision of equipment - Involvement in TfGM Bee Network consortium to investigate air quality in Levenshulme around interventions - coordination of experiment and leadership
Impact ongoing
Start Year 2019
 
Description Air quality Devolution Mayors Air quality in Manchester: holding our breath? 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact A panel debate jointly hosted by Centre for Cities and the University of Manchester who presented their research and insight, looking at both existing policy and potential new initiatives for Manchester to combat air pollution. The speakers panel included Councillor Stogliki (GMCA lead for Environment); Simon Warburton (Director TfGM), Professor Sheena Cruickshank and Professor Hugh Coe. The speakers gave responses to the research presentations and there was an audience Q&A.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
URL https://www.centreforcities.org/event/air-quality-in-manchester-holding-our-breath/
 
Description Launch event for Manchester supersite and UCRIC Manchester Urban Observatory 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact The launch event was to introduce key partners, collaborators and industrial contacts to the Supersite and data. The event included talks from the senior executives of Manchester City Council (Sir Richard Leese), Transport for Greater Manchester (Eamonn Boylan), and Professor Stephen Holgate (UKRI Clean Air Champion.
The event including an extensive networking afternoon and has built a large number of contacts and relationships across the NW region around air quality.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019