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ATMOSPHERIC PROCESSES AND MODELLING

Changes in atmospheric composition influence directly many aspects of life, determining climate, air quality and atmospheric inputs to ecosystems of Coastal Regions. In turn, these changes affect the fundamental needs of human existence, such as human and ecosystem health, food production and water resources. Research on Atmospheric Sustainability is therefore fundamental for the future orientation of Europe’s Sustainable Development Strategy. To deal with the aforementioned problems, the following priority themes are defined:


1) Global climate studies
     - Hydrological cycles and precipitation regime
     - Carbon cycle and carbon balance
     - Weather and climate variability
     - Heat waves and side effects
     - Impact on forest fires and air quality

2) Air pollution
     - Physical and chemical processes
     - Source emission and apportionment
     - Environmental and health effects

3) Forest fires
     - Fire emissions
     - Atmospheric flow and smoke dispersion
     - Chemical transformation
     - Environmental impact of biomass burning

Future Objectives

To attain the defined objectives, future investigation will be developed:

(i) Emission and Deposition
     - Estimation of forest fire emissions and its dispersion/transport modelling regarding Portugal and the Mediterranean area.
     - Development of an emission model to quantify mercury from natural sources, including vegetation, soil and water for Portugal.
     - Evaluation of the contribution of biomass combustion to air pollutant emissions: quantification of emission rates and chemical compound signatures for prevalent European wood species and different house combustion equipments.
     - Wet deposition of particulate carbon over Northeast Atlantic Region
     - Combination of sugar and genetic material analysis to establish the origin of primary biological particles.

(ii) Determination and Modeling of Atmospheric Processes
     - Analysis of organosulfates and nitrates to understand their production mechanisms and relative importance in the global secondary aerosol budget .
     - Investigation of the atmospheric aerosol characteristics, sources and formation processes by source apportionment techniques contributing to consistent environment policies.
     - Ensemble approach and data assimilation applied to improve numerical weather prediction, air quality simulation and climate reconstruction.
     - Implementation of data assimilation and ensemble to improve regional weather forecast using atmospheric numerical regional model WRF.
     - Investigate physical mechanisms and impact of climate change on variability of higher frequency extreme events in Euro-Atlantic and South Africa regions.
     - Improvement of the chemical and physical processes knowledge in the coastal boundary layer and complex topography regions through experimental campaigns. Clarification of the role of chemical compounds in the remote marine atmosphere and how they are affected by anthropogenic intrusions and the atmosphere/ocean/climate interactions.

(iii) Atmospheric Changes and Effects
     - Investigation the aerosol-cloud-climate and air quality interactions in order to: reduce current uncertainty of impact of aerosol particles on climate and quantify the side-effects of European air quality directives on global and regional climate.
     - Assessment of actual emission mitigation strategies under climate scenarios in order to address their efficiency and future adequacy.
     - Study of urban air pollution mainly focused on particulate and air toxic pollutants will be performed through experimental field studies and a consistent modeling approach. A causal link between emission sources and population exposure for short- and long-term adverse health effects will be established.
    - Development of the methodology for analysis of the potential effect of forest-fire smoke emissions on firemen health, based on the estimation of the fire-fighters personal exposure to air pollutants.
    - Evaluation of indoor pollution on human health.
    - Development of modeling approach to study dispersion of hazardous matter in case of industrial accidents.

Equipment

APM benefits from recently acquired cutting-edge analytical equipment, e.g. ultra-high-performance liquid chromatographer coupled with ultra-high resolution quadrupole time-of-flight mass spectrometer (UHPLC UHD Q-TOF MS/MS), triple quadrupole LC-MS/MS, various gas chromatographers with distinct detectors, among others.

In collaboration with the “Coastal Zone Planning and Management” group, APM have access to a biomass combustion laboratory where lab-scale reactors and residential burning appliances can be operated; the setup enables the real time monitoring of several combustion parameters and flue gas composition.

Facilities for physical simulation of the atmospheric flow and pollutants dispersion are also available, namely two open-circuit wind tunnels: Tunnel 1 (5.5 m total length with a test section of 1.30 m x 0.25 x 0.30 m) and Tunnel 2 (12.2 m long and a test section of 6.5 m x 1.5 m x 1.0 m), where studies concerning obstacle aerodynamics (buildings, low speed vehicles, etc.), pollutant dispersion in urban areas, pedestrian wind comfort, amongst others, are performed.

Research Labs

The Research Group on Atmospheric Processes and Modelling (APM) aims to create and disseminate scientific knowledge in the area of the atmosphere, in particular regarding changes in the atmosphere composition, emissions characterization, pollutants deposition, and atmospheric processes modelling. This knowledge is developed within four main fields of interest: climate change, atmospheric sustainability, air quality and human health.

To optimize its activities the Group APM is organised into three Laboratories with several synergies and complementarities: (i) Lab of Atmospheric Physics (LAP); (ii) Lab of Atmospheric Chemistry (LAC), and (iii) Lab on Emissions, Modelling and Climate Change (GEMAC).

Lab of Atmospheric Physics (LAP)

LAP is focused on climate change research and includes: i) diagnosis of climate change signal in the occurrence of precipitation extreme episodes; ii) analysis of water vapor exchange processes between the troposphere and stratosphere; iii) Assessment of upper troposphere/lower stratosphere baroclinicity change and multiple tropopause event trends; and iv) contribution of atmospheric circulation changes for the variability of total ozone column. Research is also carried out in the field of renewable energies through numerical weather simulations studies to evaluate/forecast renewable energy resources.