Meteorology, air quality, and health in London: the ClearfLo project

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Authors

  • The ClearfLo Project Authors

Abstract

Air quality and heat are strong health drivers, and their accurate assessment and forecast are important in densely populated urban areas. However, the sources and processes leading to high concentrations of main pollutants, such as ozone, nitrogen dioxide, and fine and coarse particulate matter, in complex urban areas are not fully understood, limiting our ability to forecast air quality accurately. This paper introduces the Clean Air for London (ClearfLo; www.clearflo.ac.uk) project’s interdisciplinary approach to investigate the processes leading to poor air quality and elevated temperatures.

Within ClearfLo, a large multi-institutional project funded by the U.K. Natural Environment Research Council (NERC), integrated measurements of meteorology and gaseous, and particulate composition/loading within the atmosphere of London, United Kingdom, were undertaken to understand the processes underlying poor air quality. Long-term measurement infrastructure installed at multiple levels (street and elevated), and at urban background, curbside, and rural locations were complemented with high-resolution numerical atmospheric simulations. Combining these (measurement–modeling) enhances understanding of seasonal variations in meteorology and composition together with the controlling processes. Two intensive observation periods (winter 2012 and the Summer Olympics of 2012) focus upon the vertical structure and evolution of the urban boundary layer; chemical controls on nitrogen dioxide and ozone production—in particular, the role of volatile organic compounds; and processes controlling the evolution, size, distribution, and composition of particulate matter. The paper shows that mixing heights are deeper over London than in the rural surroundings and that the seasonality of the urban boundary layer evolution controls when concentrations peak. The composition also reflects the seasonality of sources such as domestic burning and biogenic emissions.

Details

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)779-804
Number of pages26
JournalBulletin of the American Meteorological Society
Volume96
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2015