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A State of the Art Air Pollution Forecast System for Ireland

Posted on 19 November 2013

From Tuesday 19th<, NUI Galway's Centre for Climate & Air Pollution Studies (C-CAPS) will provide online air pollution forecasts for Ireland and Britain in a demonstration-of-capability mode. This a pilot programme which will run for a two week period. Air quality and weather forecasts products will be provided daily for each subsequent hour covering the following 2.5 days.

The aim is to demonstrate the new and indigenous air quality forecasting capacity that has been developed in NUI Galway and facilitated through cooperation with Met Éireann and ICHEC. It provides an opportunity for interested groups and users to provide feedback on it’s value and utility.The forecasts can be accessed via http://www.macehead.org/ under 'Air quality Forecasts' menu bar.

The forecast model domain covers most of the NE Atlantic and all of Europe; however, for this demonstration, hourly- timescale animated forecasts for Ireland and Britain are delivered. The model generating the forecasts is the multi-scale WRF-Chem model, currently running at 25 km horizontal resolution and requiring two hours computational time on ICHEC's STOKES supercomputer (http://www.ichec.ie/infrastructure/stokes) with a CPU allocation equivalent to almost 500 desktop work stations.

Future developments aim to progress to higher resolution emissions inventories (e.g. TNO emissions down to 10 km) albeit this would increase computational expense by more than a factor of 10, highlighting the computational resource challenges and requirements associated with state-of-the-art air quality forecasting.  

In addition to the computational requirements, the technical backbone and process traffic management associated with the operational system is highly demanding so well done to the collective ICHEC, Met Éireann and C-CAPS team, and in particular, Project Leader & EPA Fellow Dr Damien Martin for building the system and the best of success with the demonstration.

The model is also being used for volcanic ash cloud dispersion and air pollution – climate change interaction studies and can also be adopted for radiological dispersion.

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ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS: The EPA Fellowship award 'Air Quality – Climate interactions' under the Climate Change Research Programme (CCRP) 2006-2013 and the synergetic contributions from SFI (RFP INFORM), ESA (VAST STRIN) and HEA (PRTLI5 ENS) funding programmes which contributed to this work.

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