Urban climate and air quality

The research area focuses on climate and air quality in cities. According to the WHO, air pollution today represents the greatest environmental health risk for the world's population. Heat stress also poses a significant health risk and it is expected to increase in line with climate change.

The aim of the research is to:

  • Increase knowledge about environmental risks in our cities and communities, mainly with a focus on heat and the air quality.
  • Contribute with new methods and tools that can improve the description of population exposure and help decision makers to make informed decisions and act to improve the living conditions of residents.
  • In collaboration with health researchers, quantify health effects and investigate relationships between exposure and health effects for air pollution and heat stress.
  • Highlight specific Nordic challenges linked to urban air quality and climate.

Air quality

Within the area of air quality, the main focus is on high-resolution modelling and related input data needs such as emissions and description of meteorological conditions. The research area should contribute to maintain a high scientific level within the field and ensure that the modelling well fulfils the needs of relevant authorities and can be used for further research.

The area includes a relatively large amount of development, where the air quality system Clair is included as a fundamental component. This development takes place in collaboration with SMHI's consulting group. Clair is today used for national modelling of pollution levels and population exposure on behalf of the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency.

Research in the field is often carried out in collaboration with health researchers. In these contexts, SMHI mainly contributes with expertise regarding exposure to air pollution or heat, while health researchers contribute with epidemiological expertise. The focus is on describing pollution levels from sources that are particularly significant in the Nordic countries, for example wood burning, wear particles from road traffic and shipping emissions.

A new focus area is to combine measurement data and modelling using different kinds of data fusion, including for example the application of machine learning and neural networks.

Urban climate

Within urban climate, the HARMONIE model system is a fundamental component, which is supplemented by CFD (Computational Fluid Dynamics) and radiation models to reach a higher spatial resolution. The goal is to increase the understanding of how cities can be built to reduce the population's exposure to heat and to produce more complete data for climate planning than is available today. For urban planning  several comfort-related climate aspects should be considered and the data should be sufficiently detailed. A new important data source for urban meteorological conditions is so-called "citizen sensing", where a large number of simpler measuring stations are used as a complement to official meteorological measuring stations. One objective is to use this type of data to evaluate and improve the models used.