How to shape European policy to fight air pollution? This issue has been debated during the first Policy User Workshop of MACC-II, an EU-funded project, which has developed one of the most advanced air quality forecasting and assessment systems in the world. The two day event finished today in the REA premises in Brussels.
MACC-II services, currently in the pre-operational stages, assess the quality of the air we breathe. They combine atmospheric modelling with Earth Observation data to provide information on air quality, the ozone layer, UV radiation and the main greenhouse gases. MACC-II also monitors the level of air pollutants and, in special cases, volcanic ash or gases emitted from major fires.
MACC-II project has developed services to forecast pollution episodes, and prevent them
“In a snapshot, MACC-II provides air pollution monitoring and forecast services to meet the needs of a range of stakeholders, from the EU and national decision makers to the citizens,”explained Dr. Vincent-Henri Peuch from the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (UK), the project’s coordinator. “Among the questions we address are; How has the air quality been changing over the last few years? Will we experience a pollution episode in the coming days?”
During the workshop, two sessions were held to inform policymakers and the general public about products developed by the project, and present user perspectives on the MACC-II services. The research team also received recommendations for further development of the MACC-II, based on user experience.
The MACC-II research team during the workshop in the REA premises
According to the statistics, air pollution is estimated to cause approximately 3.3 million deaths annually worldwide, and is the number one environmental cause of death in the EU, with over 400,000 premature deaths recorded in 2010. Exposure to air pollutants is largely beyond the control of individuals and requires action by public authorities at the national, regional and international levels.
“The best way to combat air pollution is to control its sources. The aim of the workshop was to show how MACC-II can help in the process,” commented Dr. Leonor Tarrasó from the Norwegian Institute for Air Research, the MACC II partner and co-organiser of the workshop. “The services developed in the project identify sources of pollution outside national boundaries, and can help policy makers decide on the most effective control measures such as traffic restrictions, to prevent air pollution episodes,” she added.
Exhaust fumes are a major source of a number of air pollutants