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Support for the LWEC Accredited Defra-NCAS research programme on air pollution - AQ0946

Ambient air pollution has been an adverse environmental consequence of human activities since the industrial revolution and despite very great improvements in air quality in UK urban and suburban areas, it remains a major challenge to predict and control. Understanding how changes in emissions will be manifested in changes in air quality is difficult to predict, since the chemical system is highly complex and is coupled with dynamical effects such as mixing and dilution. The societal impacts of air pollution on the UK population are large – fine particulate matter (PM2.5) alone is currently estimated to reduce life expectancy across the population by an average of 6 months, with a monetized cost of £16bn per year. The costs of implementing emission control changes can also run in to many millions per major intervention, hence a sound knowledge base is essential before policy is formulated. Beyond human exposure, some air pollutants lead to acidification and eutrophication of the environment whilst other pollutants such as ozone also damage plants and reduce crop yield. Man-made particulates and aerosols also influence cloud properties, long and shortwave radiation balance and hence climate. Air pollution incurs significant further social costs by negatively impacting on ecosystem services, as well as damaging biodiversity.
Air quality science is therefore an integral part of the science of public and environmental health, of weather and the climate system. Despite the significant financial and social impacts of poor air quality significant scientific gaps exist in our ability to explain recent trends in both urban and background pollutants. For example, in many (mainly roadside) locations particulate matter (PM10) and NO2 concentrations are no longer declining despite increasingly stringent emission limits and major investment in control technologies. There remains uncertainty in predicting how the UK atmosphere will evolve in the future in response to policy interventions on emissions and as a result of wider changes induced by climate change.
Defra and the National Centre for Atmospheric Science are working together on an LWEC accredited programme which aims to Improve understanding of key processes
• Support the AQEG Secretariat in the preparation of meetings, including the development of agendas, meeting papers and minutes;
• To assist in the delivery of AQEG’s work programme, including assisting the development of specifications for AQEG work items, coordinating Members’ input, providing a challenge function against the specification, and assisting with Defra’s response to finished reports;
• Undertake further in-depth analysis and interpretation of AQEG and other Defra data to deliver new policy-relevant research findings.
• Operate as a formal link between AQEG and the wider NCAS and University community, providing briefing on AQEG activities and acting as a conduit by which external comment and expertise can be channelled into AQEG’s work;
• Assist in the development of Defra’s air quality science and evidence programme both in terms of the development of research questions and in leveraging effort from the wider research community in order to address those questions;
• Provide input to the Defra air quality programme based on the outputs and forthcoming outputs of research undertaken elsewhere in NCAS and, where possible, the wider research community;
• Facilitate regular meetings between the Defra and NCAS research programmes to promote exchange of ideas and develop a closer working relationship.
Time-Scale and Cost
From: 2012

To: 2015

Cost: £145,910
Contractor / Funded Organisations
University of York
Fields of Study
Air Quality