ICAS external seminar

Massimo Vieno (Centre for Ecology & Hydrology)

“A modelling prospective of UK reactive nitrogen”

Followed by coffee and cake in the SEE Foyer


Atmospheric reactive nitrogen (Nr) is a key pollutant that through its various forms has a large effect on ecosystem and human health. Emissions of Nr are mainly directly anthropogenic or derived indirectly from human activities. For example, in the UK, oxidised nitrogen compounds (NOx) are primarily emitted by combustion activities such as transportation and energy production, while ammonia (NH3), another important Nr air-quality pollutant, is mainly emitted by agricultural activities, such as fertilization of crops and animals. Ammonia is also the most abundant gas-phase alkaline species in the atmosphere. The gas and phase-transfer reactions between Nr compounds and other pollutants, such as sulphur dioxide (SO2) and volatile organic compounds (VOCs), lead to the formation of secondary pollutants, such as ozone and particulate matter. These interactions are very complex and non-linear. To investigate how these pollutants interact we use advanced atmospheric chemistry transport models. The current state-of-the-art ACTMs are able to simulate these interactions and other drivers such as the dispersion, the removal process, and transboundary import to and from the UK. These models allow researchers to answer questions such as “where does this pollutant come from” and “can we prevent future episodes of bad air pollution”. Measurements alone cannot answer these questions.


Massimo’s current role at CEH is to lead the development of an atmospheric chemistry transport model to simulate the atmospheric composition, and atmosphere surface exchange of pollutants in the UK and Europe; for long term averages (multiple years) and for specific pollution episodes (hours).