04 Jun 2013

Air quality research at the JRC

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This year's Green Week is dedicated to air
© EU, 2013

The JRC conducts research activities to support climate change mitigation strategies and policies to improve air quality. They will be presented at the occasion of the EU's Green week, taking place between 4 and 7 June and devoted this year to the theme "cleaner air for all".

The JRC assesses and evaluates EU- and world-wide air pollutant and GHG emission reduction policies. Currently, the JRC work focuses on supporting the review of the EU air policy, namely the National Emission Ceiling Directive, the “Clean Air for Europe” Directive and the fourth Air Quality Daughter Directive. JRC activities also concentrate on the impact assessment of policies aimed at limiting global climate change to a temperature increase of 2º C. Moreover, the JRC studies the consequences of climate change on air pollution and promotes the harmonisation of air quality measurements.

Monitoring air quality and greenhouse gas emissions

The JRC runs its own emission inventory database (Emissions Database for Global Atmospheric Research –EDGAR) and air pollution monitoring station. It develops atmosphere and climate models to analyse de-carbonisation and GHG emission scenarios. Using up-to-date information and data on energy production and consumption, industrial manufacturing, agricultural production, waste treatment/disposal and the burning of biomass, emissions of greenhouse gases and air pollutants for all countries of the world are modelled in a comparable and consistent manner. EDGAR is unique in that it provides emissions data, dating back as far as 1970, 20 years prior to the reference year (1990) for the Kyoto protocol.

Research at the JRC's European Monitoring and Evaluation Programme (EMEP) station contributes to solving trans-boundary air pollution problems by monitoring concentrations of carbon monoxide, ozone, secondary aerosol precursors and particulate matter.

At its on-site monitoring station in Ispra, the JRC also analyses the interactions between atmosphere, biosphere and climate change, by continuous measurement of GHG and reactive gas concentrations and aerosol characteristics.

In addition, the JRC uses pollution monitor equipment placed on a cruise liner to monitor ozone, black carbon and aerosol size distribution levels over the Mediterranean Sea.

Furthermore, the JRC applies inverse modeling techniques to estimate GHG emissions on the European and global scale, using surface and satellite measurements.

Harmonisation of measurement and modelling data

The JRC supports the Commission and EU Member States in the implementation of the current EU legislation on air quality with harmonised methodologies for modelling, monitoring and assessment.

The JRC manages the European Reference Laboratory for Air Pollution (ERLAP), provides training and organises regular inter-laboratory comparisons with reference laboratories all over Europe to ensure coherent standard measurements. Within this context, the JRC co-ordinates two technical networks: the Network of Air Quality Reference Laboratories (AQUILA) for issues related to monitoring and the Forum for Air Quality Modelling in Europe (FAIRMODE) for harmonisation of models and their applications.

Atmospheric dispersion models

The JRC has developed ENSEMBLE, a web-based platform used to compare and evaluate scientific models set up to study transport and dispersion of chemical substances in the atmosphere. The system was originally developed for nuclear emergencies but is now used for any kind of atmospheric models.

The JRC also supports the Air Quality Modelling Evaluation International Initiative (AQMEII) which promotes research on regional air quality across the European and North American atmospheric modelling communities, through exchange of information and best practice.

More information

Green Week