Air Pollution: Urban Areas

Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs written question – answered on 3rd April 2017.

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Photo of Lord Hunt of Chesterton Lord Hunt of Chesterton Labour

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the accuracy of local air pollution forecasts in major cities; and what comparisons they make between these forecasts and those provided by other organisations.

Photo of Lord Gardiner of Kimble Lord Gardiner of Kimble The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

Defra publishes the daily air pollution forecast provided by the Met Office on the UK Air website. A 2013 Defra-commissioned study made a comparison of the Met Office air quality forecasting model against three other models over a six month period. This found that the Met Office model generally performed best overall in both urban and rural areas.

The Met Office has built a system for acquiring air quality observations from the Automatic Urban and Rural Network and comparing its air quality forecast against these observations, in order to evaluate and verify performance of the forecast system. In addition, a recent development of the system allows a comparison against the EU Copernicus forecasting system. This evaluation runs on a daily basis, to inform forecasters about current and recent forecast performance; and on a longer timescale, to identify areas requiring further research.

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