Air quality supersite triplets (UK-AQST)

Lead Research Organisation: University of Birmingham
Department Name: Sch of Geography, Earth & Env Sciences

Abstract

Air pollution is the most significant environmental risk in the UK, leading to economic costs of £20b/y and significant health inequalities. Quantifying the changing causes of air pollution motivated NERC investment in three fixed air quality supersites - located in urban background locations within London, Birmingham and Manchester, operated via the UKRI SPF project OSCA.

In parallel, the forthcoming (early 2021) revision of WHO guidelines will inform new national air quality targets, within the new Environment Bill, which are likely to reflect population-averaged exposure.

Poor air quality arises from the interaction of emissions, meteorology and atmospheric processes, affecting the loading and toxicity of the species present. Two key uncertainties are

1 The balance between traffic and urban emissions, and pollutants already present in the air arriving from upwind, key to the regional and national policy responsibility for improving air quality.

2 The interaction between spatially varying emissions and chemical processing affecting air quality, including the role of agricultural emissions and transport shifts for Net Zero.


Here, we will develop new UK community capability to address these uncertainties: Flexibly configurable air quality supersite triplets, spanning upwind, roadside and urban observational capability.

UK-AQST comprises the existing fixed supersites (urban), augmented by two mobile "supersites" to study (for example) upwind rural and roadside air composition. The two units will be located within sustainable mobile platforms (one electric van, one trailer for maximum flexibility) operated to national standards and producing open-access data.

The supersites are not traditional monitoring stations - they will comprise highly sophisticated instruments which monitor key species in atmospheric processes such as ammonia (key to aerosol formation), VOCs (key to ozone, secondary organic aerosol and new particle formation), as well as trace metals, nanoparticles and particle composition in near-real time, in addition to regulated gas pollutants. By using a triplet site configuration (rural, urban, roadside), not only can urban and roadside concentration increments be measured, the processing of polluted air to form key secondary pollutants such as nitrate and secondary organic particles, and freshly formed nanoparticles can be viewed in unprecedented detail to yield process understanding.

The triplet observations will generate a step-change in scientific capability for quantifying air pollution sources and processes at a fundamental level, thus consolidating UK's world-leading position in this field. It will produce policy relevant science with significant impact, particularly in informing air quality policy including the validation of approaches accounting for imported emissions, with applications across the UK and for analogous challenges globally.

Publications

10 25 50
 
Description Media interviews following the Birmingham Clean Air Zone Implementation 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Media (as a channel to the public)
Results and Impact Clean Air Zone Launch - Communications Evaluation
On 1 June 2021, Birmingham City Council announced the launch of the city's Clean Air Zone. Working with professional services and academic colleagues, we used this as an opportunity to promote the world-leading clean air research, taking place across the University of Birmingham.
Communications Activity Total reach - 3,601,092

We contacted (and were contacted by) regional and national media outlets to provide expert comment on the introduction of the Clean Air Zone. Outputs include;
Date Outlet Media item Academic Reach
1 June 2021 5 News Birmingham launches 'clean air zone', but defers payments for the first 2 weeks
Professor Zongbo Shi 1,000,000
1 June 2021 ITV Central News Clean Air Zone Launch Professors William Bloss and Zongbo Shi 655,000
1 June 2021 Sky News Clean Air Zone Launch Professor Zongbo Shi 324,000
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2021
URL https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hdgqSO54x2U
 
Description Press release : Mobile research laboratories will keep track of UK air pollution 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Media (as a channel to the public)
Results and Impact A press release by the Universit of Birmingham. Other media outlets showed interests in this. Particularly ITN central has asked us to contact them once the supersite is built.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2021
URL https://www.birmingham.ac.uk/news/latest/2021/03/mobile-research-laboratories-will-keep-track-of-uk-...