Bernard Fisher
7 December 2012

Much ado about modelling

On 5th December IAQM held a conference for the Dispersion Modellers User Group. This news page provides some of Bernard Fisher's personal reflections upon the meeting and aggregates photos and presentations from the event.

Bernard Fisher's reflections
The title of the meeting suggests an appropriate quotation from the play ‘Pause awhile and let my counsel sway you’.

The Dispersion Modellers User Group is an annual event at which air quality modellers and measurement people get together to discuss their latest results. It is appropriate that, as it is 10 years since the founding of the IAQM, this meeting should review the past and future of air quality management. The first talk by Martin Williams did just that.

This year’s event was attended by nearly 100 people. The full programme and links to the presentations are listed below.

We are all keen to see air quality improve. In the first session some of the ways in which the local air quality management regime has not lived up to expectations were discussed. For example NOx emissions from diesels has not followed emission scenarios, air quality modellers do not appreciate assumptions made by traffic modellers with unintended consequences, dispersion in urban areas with tall buildings can be very difficult to model and the introduction of small sources in urban areas to offset climate change can worsen air quality.

In the second session the way in which the regime may change was discussed. This involved talks on the development of new guidance, particularly the role of modelling in air quality assessment, and the consideration of new observations now available concerning particle number, black carbon particles and particles from biomass burning.

From the past we have learnt that evaluation and assessment of air quality is not always accurate and the errors should be taken into account when developing plans. Plans should also take in account conflicting considerations such as managing climate change. In addition there are components of air quality which at the current time, because of lack of knowledge about emissions, observations and atmospheric behaviour, are very difficult to manage. This does not mean ignoring them in any future air quality strategy but approaching them in alternative ways, such as by using risk assessments and considering approximate worst case situations.

Martin Williams, King's College London: Ten years of the IAQM - lessons for air quality professionals (pptx)

Session 1: Improving current practice on modelling for local air quality management

  1. Tim Murrells, AEA Technology: Road Transport Emission Factors and Fleet Data Information from the National Atmospheric Emissions Inventory (pdf)
  2. Richard Bradley, Mouchel: Issues associated with integrating transport and environmental models (ppt)
  3. Roger Barrowcliffe, Clear Air Thinking: Chimneys, plumes and the urban environment (pdf)
  4. Helen ApSimon, APRIL: Air quality implications of a decentralised energy scenario for London (pdf)

Session 2: Issues for the future related to the new EU Air Quality Directive

  1. Emily Connolly, Defra: FAIRMODE Forum for Air Quality Modelling in Europe - implications for the UK (pdf)
  2. David Carslaw, King's College London: Defra modelling intercomparison exercise (pdf)
  3. Roy Harrison, University of Birmingham: Regulatory and air quality management implications of setting particle number standards (pptx)
  4. Paul Quincey, NPL: Black carbon and elemental carbon as possible regulated metrics (pdf)
  5. Gary Fuller, King's College London: Seasonal and temporal behaviour of PM from biomass burning (pdf)

Photos from the event can be viewed on our Flickr stream.