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Centre for Atmospheric Science

Urban Pollution

Aerial view from the School's instrumented research aircraft.
Aerial view from the School’s instrumented research aircraft.

We conduct fieldwork projects investigating air flow and turbulence above and within urban streets, and how these determine the dispersion of airborne pollutants. As well as well-known gaseous pollutants, such as CO and NOx, we are especially interested in ultrafine particles, their composition, and their potential impact on health as well as gases such as ammonia and nitric acid which influence the chemical pathways for secondary aerosol production. We use sophisticated instruments to characterise the physical and chemical nature of particles present in city air, and the speed at which they are transported. These properties are then related to citywide scale emissions using aircraft measurements. Studies are also carried out with portable personal samplers to investigate typical exposure levels experienced by individuals who live and work in the city. The photograph shows an aerial view from the School’s instrumented research aircraft which measured aerosol concentrations and turbulence over the city of Manchester.

NERC funded CityFlux project.
NERC funded CityFlux project.

This work also provides exposure and emission data on what citizens breathe in and what the city emits into the atmosphere and which eventually is deposited to sensitive ecosystems or becomes incorporated into clouds. The photo shows equipment used during the NERC funded CityFlux project which was designed to measure the fluxes and chemical transformation of aerosols within and above street canyons using micrometeorological eddy correlation techniques.