Evaluating the impact of air quality policies in Barcelona

2018 edition

Daniel Rodriguez Rey

Air pollution in urban areas is a problem extended all around the world, causing several million premature deaths every year. The extent of the urban area, the local emission density and the temporal pattern in the releases dominated by the traffic rush hours, governs the local contribution to air pollution levels in urban environments. Since technological measures to tackle vehicle emissions were unsuccessful, as it was recently known by the Dieselgate scandal, local authorities are focusing on mobility policies in order to improve the air quality. However, the application of such measures are often unpopular, might require a large logistic infrastructure and they do not always have the expected outcomes.

In this sense, the application of modeling tools can give valuable insights about the possible results of air quality policies; nevertheless, the actual methodologies for their estimation go through the usage of mesoscopic models with a maximum resolution of 1 km2.  Therefore, the results of such models lack in the accuracy and flexibility needed to correctly represent vehicle emissions during peak hours and to simulate different scenarios based on mobility patterns. For this reason, several works have already coupled a microscopic traffic simulator with a microscopic vehicle emission model to increase the resolution of vehicle emissions in specific areas. The present work integrates this coupling into the Air Quality Modelling System CALIOPE, a state-of-the-art modelling framework that estimates concentration values from the principal air quality pollutants (NO2, CO, SO2, O3, C6H6, PM10 and PM2.5) to work over the First Crown of the Metropolitan Area of Barcelona. The final integration will give a tailored air quality system for Barcelona, able to manipulate mobility patters in order to estimate their air quality impact.