CERC — Environmental Software and Services

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19 Jul 2024York air quality forecasting and alert service

City of York Council commissioned CERC to develop an air quality forecasting and alert service to give York residents advance warning of when air pollution is expected to be higher than usual, up to 3 days ahead. The service provides daily air quality forecast maps at 5 metre resolution and zone-based air quality, pollen, UV and temperature forecasts. Residents can sign up to receive free air quality text, email or voice alerts; the expected alert level in each zone is also posted on X (Twitter). Forecasts are issued twice a day and routinely compared with monitored levels to maintain accuracy.

Commenting on the service, Cllr Jenny Kent, Executive Member for Environment and Climate Emergency at City of York Council, said: “This is a really simple and easy to use tool to help residents with health conditions affected by air pollution plan ahead and reduce exposure. We hope these forecasts will also raise awareness of air pollution across the city and encourage people to consider their air quality impact in helping to protect everyone’s health. Poor air quality is a contributory factor in 1 in 22 deaths in York. We can all improve this statistic; share a lift to work, work from home or walk, catch the bus or cycle, if possible, especially on days with high pollution. Solid fuel fires should also be avoided wherever possible. The new website will display maps outlining day-to-day air pollution levels. The alerts sent out will offer guidance on whether people are at risk from air pollution on a particular day and provide advice on how to stay healthy and aware.”

CERC’s air quality forecasting system for York combines weather forecasts, European-scale pollution forecasts from the Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service (CAMS) and very detailed dispersion modelling of pollution sources across York using CERC's ADMS-Urban model. The cloud-based containerised system uses Microsoft’s Azure Kubernetes Service (AKS), GDAL and GeoServer to process model data to create maps and calculate alert levels. CERC provide similar services for London and South-East England (airTEXT), Manchester (Clean Air for Greater Manchester) and Riga (Riga airTEXT).


9 Jul 2024Benchmarking nitrogen deposition models

CERC are taking part in a model inter-comparison study led by RIVM in the Netherlands to benchmark local scale nitrogen deposition dispersion models. The project was motivated by the significant number of nitrogen deposition limit value exceedances in Dutch Natura 2000 areas and a 2019 High Court Ruling, which concluded that the current Dutch policy to reduce nitrogen deposition was inadequate. In response, the Dutch Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries, Food Security and Nature initiated a research programme to propose and implement improvements in the Dutch measurement and modelling system that is used to evaluate the nitrogen deposition on nature areas. This model-intercomparison study for local scale is part of that research programme.

The study has two parts. Firstly, participating models have been set up to represent a wide range of source types and terrain, for example agricultural and traffic sources in mixed land use areas. Ten years of hourly and annual concentration and deposition values have been generated for each model configuration, and then inter-compared. The second stage of the project involves evaluation of model outputs using measurement data from a number of field campaigns. RIVM are currently finalizing the campaign datasets, and models will be set up and run over the summer.

The UK Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, VITO (Belgium), and Aarhaus University (Denmark) are also participating in the benchmarking study using Gaussian dispersion models. In addition, a group from the Dutch Wageningen University is running Large Eddy Simulations to inform the study outcomes. Results will be made public following project completion, which is scheduled for the end of 2024.

The Atmospheric Dispersion Modelling Liaison Committee (ADMLC), which has been supporting research into atmospheric dispersion modelling methods for over 25 years, has part-funded CERC's participation in this project.


18 Jun 2024Source apportionment analysis for London’s bus fleet

The Transport for London (TfL) red-liveried bus fleet are part of the city's identity, but were a key area for improvement in the Mayor of London's 2018 Environment Strategy. Southwark Borough Council commissioned CERC consultants to assess the contribution of bus emissions to total pollutant concentrations in Southwark.

Using the ADMS-Urban model and emissions inventory tool EMIT, we created air quality maps of the borough for nitrogen dioxide and particulates, based on all emissions and then on bus emissions only. We also modelled pollutant concentrations at a large set of roadside receptors along Southwark's bus routes.

We took traffic data from the London Atmospheric Emissions Inventory, using EMIT to create a traffic scenario including only buses. The figure shows source apportionment results for NOx, with concentrations due to bus emissions shown as a proportion of the concentration from all emissions sources.

At locations where the modelled annual average NO2 objective is exceeded, buses may contribute to less than 10% of the total NOx, as seen along Old Kent Road. In contrast, at Elephant Square and St. George's Circus, buses can be responsible for over 40% of total NOx. This highlights key areas where improving bus infrastructure would result in tangible improvements to air quality.

15 May 2024ADMS 6.0.2 released

CERC are pleased to announce the release of ADMS 6.0.2. This is a minor update providing additional output options that were requested at the 2023 ADMS User Group Meeting.

The first of these new options is the ability to output additional plume properties for point sources to the .cen file. The plume density and Richardson number used in the plume rise calculations can now be output, which can be useful when examining the behaviour of elevated dense releases. Additionally, wind speed and turbulence values at the mean plume height can now be output allowing for greater understanding of the behaviour of the plume.

The other new output option is the ability to output the accumulated horizontal concentration flux at specific locations. This output is given per wind direction sector making for easy comparison with measurements obtained from directional passive air samplers.

In addition to these new output options we have decreased run times for runs with spatially varying deposition. For full details on the changes within ADMS 6.0.2 please see the What's New document.

ADMS 6.0.2 is available to download from the User Area for licence holders with current support.


3 May 2024Air quality assessment of amine-based carbon capture

The Environment Agency commissioned CERC to carry out a project instigated by their modelling team AQMAU, entitled Improving Post-Combustion Carbon Capture Air Quality Risk Assessment Techniques. The project aimed to increase confidence in risk assessments for regulatory purposes, to integrate practical tools and evidence, and to inform decision-making.

The decarbonisation of industry is pushing the evolution of air dispersion modelling to assess the risk of emissions from emerging techniques such as amine-based post-combustion carbon capture.

As developers of the state-of-the-art ADMS amines chemistry module, CERC were ideally placed to carry out this project and have published their report.

The project addresses the uncertainties of ADMS input data and assumptions and improves the transparency and significance of the assessment process. It will further increase confidence and understanding of the ADMS approach and assessment strategies.

As part of the project, CERC developed an additional user-friendly tool and user guide to help model users calculate and document the amine-related input parameters.

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