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Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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Discussion papers
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Submitted as: research article 08 Aug 2019

Submitted as: research article | 08 Aug 2019

Review status
This discussion paper is a preprint. It is a manuscript under review for the journal Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics (ACP).

A very high-resolution assessment and modelling of urban air quality

Tobias Wolf, Lasse H. Pettersson, and Igor Esau Tobias Wolf et al.
  • Nansen Environmental and Remote Sensing Center, Thormøhlens gate 47, 5006, Bergen, Norway

Abstract. Urban air quality is one of the most prominent environmental concerns for a modern city dweller. Accurate monitoring of air quality is difficult due to intrinsic urban landscape heterogeneity and superposition of multiple polluting sources. Existing approaches often do not provide the necessary spatial details and peak concentrations of pollutants, especially at larger distances from measuring stations. A more advanced approach is needed. This study presents a very high-resolution air quality assessment with the large-eddy simulation model PALM. This fully three-dimensional primitive-equation hydro-dynamical model resolves both structural details of the complex urban surface and turbulent eddies larger than 10 m in size. We ran a set of 9 meteorological scenarios in order to assess the dispersion of pollutants in Bergen, a middle-sized Norwegian city embedded in a coastal valley. This set of scenarios represents typically observed conditions with high air pollution from nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and particulate matter (PM2.5). The modelling methodology helped to identify pathways and patterns of air pollution caused by the three main local air pollution sources in the city. These are road vehicle traffic, domestic house heating with wood-burning fireplaces and ships docked in the harbour area next to the city centre. The study produced vulnerability maps, highlighting the most impacted districts for each scenario.

Tobias Wolf et al.
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Tobias Wolf et al.
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Short summary
Exceedances of legal thresholds for urban air pollution are of wide concern. We demonstrate the usefulness of very high-resolution modelling for the assessment of air pollution in the urban space on the example of Bergen, Norway. Vulnerability maps highlight areas with high pollutant loading and pathways for pollutant dispersion. This supports the understanding of urban air pollution beyond existing, scarce monitoring networks and possibly the mitigation of impacts on the local population.
Exceedances of legal thresholds for urban air pollution are of wide concern. We demonstrate the...