Modelling NO 2 concentrations at the street level in the GAINS integrated assessment model: projections under current legislation
NO 2 concentrations at the street level are a major concern for urban air quality in Europe and have been regulated under the EU Thematic Strategy on Air Pollution. Despite the legal requirements, limit values are exceeded at many monitoring stations with little or no improvement in recent years. In order to assess the effects of future emission control regulations on roadside NO 2 concentrations, a downscaling module has been implemented in the GAINS integrated assessment model. The module follows a hybrid approach based on atmospheric dispersion calculations and observations from the AirBase European air quality database that are used to estimate site-specific parameters. Pollutant concentrations at every monitoring site with sufficient data coverage are disaggregated into contributions from regional background, urban increment, and local roadside increment. The future evolution of each contribution is assessed with a model of the appropriate scale: 28 × 28 km grid based on the EMEP Model for the regional background, 7 × 7 km urban increment based on the CHIMERE Chemistry Transport Model, and a chemical box model for the roadside increment. Thus, different emission scenarios and control options for long-range transport as well as regional and local emissions can be analysed. Observed concentrations and historical trends are well captured, in particular the differing NO 2 and total NO x = NO + NO 2 trends. Altogether, more than 1950 air quality monitoring stations in the EU are covered by the model, including more than 400 traffic stations and 70% of the critical stations. Together with its well-established bottom-up emission and dispersion calculation scheme, GAINS is thus able to bridge the scales from European-wide policies to impacts in street canyons. As an application of the model, we assess the evolution of attainment of NO 2 limit values under current legislation until 2030. Strong improvements are expected with the introduction of the Euro 6 emission standard for light duty vehicles; however, for some major European cities, further measures may be required, in particular if aiming to achieve compliance at an earlier time.