Air quality and composition

Pollutants in the air we breathe affect our health (image: Ministry for the Environment, New Zealand)

Man-made and natural pollutants in the air we breathe affect our health and can influence the weather.

Pollutants such as sulphur dioxide, nitrogen oxides and particulate matter are released into the atmosphere as a result of the combustion of fossil fuels and industrial processes. Chemical interactions amongst these primary pollutants, under the influence of heat and solar radiation, can give rise to additional secondary pollutants. The build-up of these pollutants in the atmosphere is strongly influenced by meteorology. The pollutants can also influence meteorology in a feedback process. In order to predict atmospheric concentrations of pollutants we integrate knowledge of pollutant emissions with meteorology and chemical evolution in a forecast model.

Key aims

  • To develop and improve air quality forecasting and modelling in the Unified Model (AQUM).
  • To deliver the Met Office operational air quality forecasting capability using AQUM.
  • To apply atmospheric composition modelling expertise to a variety of customer problems.

Current projects

  • Maintenance and development of the AQUM operational forecast system
  • Air quality forecast provision to the BBC
  • Near-real-time verification of air quality forecasts
  • Atmospheric composition modelling to support Observations Research
  • Health impacts modelling (in collaboration with the Post Processing Applications team)
  • Influence of atmospheric composition on meteorology
  • Visibility forecasting

Last updated: 29 July 2014