Headline: Urban population exposure forecast system to predict NO2 impact by a building-resolving multi-scale model approach

Operational forecasting systems based on chemical transport models (CTMs) nowadays generally produce concentration maps with a resolution in the order of 2–5 km, very rarely exceeding the sub-kilometre scale. The main reason for this restriction is the prohibitive computing cost that a simulation covering an entire country would have if set-up with a resolution in the order of meters. In this paper a hybrid forecast system, relying on the WRF-Chem model coupled with the PMSS Lagrangian modelling suite, has been developed and applied for each day of February 2019, to predict hourly NO2 and NOx concentrations with a spatial resolution of 4 m, for the urban area of Modena (a city located in the central Po Valley). Simulated meteorological fields (temperature, wind speed and direction) were assessed at three urban stations, compliant with WMO standards, and modelled concentrations were compared with measurements at two urban air quality stations located at background and traffic sites. Results show that meteorological variables are well captured by the hybrid system and statistical performances are in line with the benchmark values suggested by the European Environmental Agency and with similar case studies focusing on the same area. Modelled NO2 and NOx concentrations, notwithstanding a slight underestimation mainly evident at urban traffic stations for NOx, present a large agreement with related observations. The NO2 Model Quality Objective, as defined by Fairmode guidelines, was met for both the urban stations and the other statistical indexes considered in the evaluation fulfilled the acceptance criteria for dispersion modelling in urban environment, for both NO2 and NOx concentrations. In the second section of the study, the population exposure to forecasted NO2 concentrations has been evaluated adopting a generic model of dynamic population activity. The population was distributed at hourly time steps in specific urban micro-environments at the same resolution of the concentration maps (4 m) and the short-term exposure has been computed as the product between the population density in each model cell and related surface NO2 concentrations. An infiltration factor was also applied to estimate indoor concentrations. The hybrid system was shown to be particularly suited for assessing short-term peak exposure in areas influenced by traffic emissions. On the other hand, due to the limited time spent by the population within traffic related environments, the long-term population exposure calculated by the hybrid system tends to be similar to the WRF-Chem stand-alone estimate.

Wissenschaftliche Aufsätze

Veratti, G., Bigi, A., Lupascu, A., Butler, T. M., & Ghermandi, G. (2021). Urban population exposure forecast system to predict NO2 impact by a building-resolving multi-scale model approach. Atmospheric Environment, 261: 118566. doi:10.1016/j.atmosenv.2021.118566.

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Modellierung der Luftqualität für Politikberatung