Advances in air quality research – current and emerging challenges

Ranjeet Sokhi, Nicolas Moussiopoulos, Alexander Baklanov, John Bartzis, Isabelle Coll, Sandro Finardi, Rainer Friedrich, Camilla Geels, Tia Grönholm, Tomas Halenka, Matthias Ketzel, Androniki Maragkidou, Volker Matthias, Jana Moldanova, Leonidas Ntziachristos, Klaus Schäfer, Peter Suppan, George Tsegas, Greg Carmichael, Vicente FrancoSteve Hanna, Jukka-Pekka Jalkanen, Guus J. M. . Velders, Jaakko Kukkonen

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Abstract

This review provides a community’s perspective on air quality research focusing mainly on developmentsover the past decade. The article provides perspectives on current and future challenges as well asresearch needs for selected key topics. While this paper is not an exhaustive review of all research areas in thefield of air quality, we have selected key topics that we feel are important from air quality research and policy perspectives. After providing a short historical overview, this review focuses on improvements in characterizingsources and emissions of air pollution, new air quality observations and instrumentation, advances in air qualityprediction and forecasting, understanding interactions of air quality with meteorology and climate, exposure andhealth assessment, and air quality management and policy. In conducting the review, specific objectives were(i) to address current developments that push the boundaries of air quality research forward, (ii) to highlightthe emerging prominent gaps of knowledge in air quality research, and (iii) to make recommendations to guidethe direction for future research within the wider community. This review also identifies areas of particular importancefor air quality policy. The original concept of this review was borne at the International Conferenceon Air Quality 2020 (held online due to the COVID 19 restrictions during 18–26 May 2020), but the articleincorporates a wider landscape of research literature within the field of air quality science. On air pollutionemissions the review highlights, in particular, the need to reduce uncertainties in emissions from diffuse sources,particulate matter chemical components, shipping emissions, and the importance of considering both indoor andoutdoor sources. There is a growing need to have integrated air pollution and related observations from bothground-based and remote sensing instruments, including in particular those on satellites. The research shouldalso capitalize on the growing area of low-cost sensors, while ensuring a quality of the measurements which areregulated by guidelines. Connecting various physical scales in air quality modelling is still a continual issue,with cities being affected by air pollution gradients at local scales and by long-range transport. At the same time,one should allow for the impacts from climate change on a longer timescale. Earth system modelling offers considerablepotential by providing a consistent framework for treating scales and processes, especially where thereare significant feedbacks, such as those related to aerosols, chemistry, and meteorology. Assessment of exposureto air pollution should consider the impacts of both indoor and outdoor emissions, as well as application of moresophisticated, dynamic modelling approaches to predict concentrations of air pollutants in both environments.With particulate matter being one of the most important pollutants for health, research is indicating the urgentneed to understand, in particular, the role of particle number and chemical components in terms of health impact,which in turn requires improved emission inventories and models for predicting high-resolution distributions ofthese metrics over cities. The review also examines how air pollution management needs to adapt to the abovementionednew challenges and briefly considers the implications from the COVID-19 pandemic for air quality.Finally, we provide recommendations for air quality research and support for policy.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4615–4703
Number of pages89
JournalAtmospheric Chemistry and Physics
Volume22
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 11 Apr 2022

Keywords

  • air quality
  • Observations
  • Low cost sensors
  • dispersion modelling
  • health impacts
  • Climate
  • Review

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