Meteorology, air quality, and health in London: The ClearfLo project

S.I. Bohnenstengel, S.E. Belcher, A. Aiken, J.D. Allan, G. Allen, A. Bacak, T.J. Bannan, J.F. Barlow, D.C.S. Beddows, W.J. Bloss, A.M. Booth, C. Chemel, O. Coceal, C.F. Di Marco, M.K. Dubey, K.H. Faloon, Z.L. Fleming, M. Furger, J.K. Gietl, R.R. GravesD.C. Green, C.S.B. Grimmond, C.H. Halios, J. F. Hamilton, R.M. Harrison, M.R. Heal, D. E. Heard, C. Helfter, S.C. Herndon, R.E. Holmes, J. R. Hopkins, A.M. Jones, F.J. Kelly, S. Kotthaus, B. Langford, J.D. Lee, R.J. Leigh, A.C. Lewis, R.T. Lidster, F.D. Lopez-Hilfiker, J.B. McQuaid, C. Mohr, P. S. Monks, E. Nemitz, N.L. Ng, C.J. Percival, A.S.H. Prévôt, H.M.A. Ricketts, R. Sokhi, D. Stone, J.A. Thornton, A.H. Tremper, A.C. Valach, S. Visser, L.K. Whalley, L.R. Williams, L. Xu, D.E. Young, P. Zotter

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Capsule: The ClearfLo project provides integrated measurements of the meteorology, composition and particulate loading of London's urban atmosphere to improve predictive capability for air quality. Air quality and heat are strong health drivers and their accurate assessment and forecast are important in densely populated urban areas. However, the sources and processes leading to high concentrations of main pollutants such as ozone, nitrogen dioxide, and fine and coarse particulate matter in complex urban areas are not fully understood, limiting our ability to forecast air quality accurately. This paper introduces the ClearfLo project's interdisciplinary approach to investigate the processes leading to poor air quality and elevated temperatures. Within ClearfLo (, a large multi-institutional project funded by the UK Natural Environment Research Council (NERC), integrated measurements of meteorology, gaseous and particulate composition/loading within London's atmosphere were undertaken to understand the processes underlying poor air quality. Long-term measurement infrastructure installed at multiple levels (street and elevated), and at urban background, kerbside and rural locations were complemented with high-resolution numerical atmospheric simulations . Combining these (measurement/modeling) enhances understanding of seasonal variations in meteorology and composition together with the controlling processes. Two intensive observation periods (winter 2012 and summer Olympics 2012) focus upon the vertical structure and evolution of the urban boundary layer, chemical controls on nitrogen dioxide and ozone production, in particular the role of volatile organic compounds, and processes controlling the evolution, size, distribution and composition of particulate matter. The paper shows that mixing heights are deeper over London than in the rural surroundings and the seasonality of the urban boundary layer evolution controls when concentrations peak. The composition also reflects the seasonality of sources such as domestic burning and biogenic emissions.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)779-804
JournalBulletin of the American Meteorological Society
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - May 2015


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