Environment: ENEA air quality prediction system joins the EU Copernicus consortium


The European air quality monitoring system has one more ally, this time 100% Italian: the ENEA system for analysing and forecasting air pollution, MINNI,[1] has joined the Copernicus Atmospheric Monitoring Service consortium (CAMS2_40[2]) managed by the European Centre for Medium-term Weather Forecasts (ECMWF) on behalf of the European Commission.

With MINNI there are officially 11 models[3] that monitor air quality in Europe. "This is a significant improvement as Southern Europe will finally be represented within the consortium with Italian and Spanish models. This means greater sensitivity to typically ‘Mediterranean’ air quality issues, such as high ozone levels in the summer, the Po Valley hotspot and the entry of Saharan sands”, noted Mario Adani, ENEA’s lead official in the CAMS2_40 consortium.

Another improvement is of a statistical nature: as the number of air quality prediction models increases, the uncertainty in the pollution values calculated by all models decreases. Furthermore, in the case of problems with the elaboration of a daily forecast by one or even two calculation models, the ensemble resulting from the processing of the other members still remains statistically robust.

“With MINNI's entry into Copernicus the air pollution management policy in Europe has taken a step forward, because ours is the national benchmark model for the Ministry of Ecological Transition. This means that it is able to support the process of reporting of data and the elaboration of national air quality scenarios, which are required by European directives. For this reason, the European Copernicus programme has every interest in adopting a pollutant dispersion model that is already officially used by a Member State”, explained Antonio Piersanti, head of ENEA's Air Pollution Laboratory.

The CAMS consortium enters 350 million readings every 12 hours for a total of 1.4 terabytes of new data produced every day, while there are 100 million people including employees of companies and agencies, researchers and the public at large who view this information on air quality. The Italian MINNI model, like the other ten regional air quality models, performs daily analyses of air pollutants (including NOx, O3, PM10 and PM2.5) and provides daily four-day forecasts of the main gas and particulate concentrations in the lower layers of the atmosphere. Furthermore, the horizontal resolution, ranging from approximately 10 to 20 km, allows monitoring and forecasting pollution levels and atmospheric composition on a regional scale. MINNI is based on the “FARM” chemistry and transport model and performs daily pollution forecasts on CRESCO, ENEA's supercomputer at the Portici Research Centre (Naples), which provides crucial support for the speed and stability of modelling simulations.

"The observations from satellites and from the ground can provide a snapshot of air quality, but have no real predictive capacity. On the other hand, the Copernicus consortium combines state-of-the-art computerised models of the atmosphere, like those used for daily weather forecasts, with satellite and non-satellite observations and data on pollutant emissions, providing daily forecasts of the composition of the air worldwide. This combination of millions of daily observations with the predictive power of atmospheric models is the real strength of CAMS, which the Italian model, which officially joined the European Consortium after a three-year trial period from 2019 to 2021, will contribute to from now on”, Piersanti concluded.

Poor air quality risks becoming a serious public health problem: according to the World Health Organisation, seven million people already die each year from air pollution, 500,000 of them in Europe alone due to the onset of pathologies such as cardiovascular and respiratory diseases. And research shows that negative health effects arise not only from acute events but also from chronic exposure, which reduces life expectancy by an average of more than eight months, and more than two years in the world's most polluted cities and areas.

For more information:

Antonio Piersanti, ENEA - Atmospheric Pollution Laboratory, antonio.piersanti@enea.it

Mario Adani, ENEA - Atmospheric Pollution Laboratory, mario.adani@enea.it


CAMS2-40 Project



[1] MINNI - National Integrated Model to Support International Negotiations on Air Pollution Issues

[2] The consortium is called CAMS2_40, where CAMS stands for Copernicus Atmospheric Monitoring Service and 2_40 is the code for both the project and the group of models that perform daily four-day air quality forecasts across all of Europe.

[3] The list of 11 CAMS2_40 models: CHIMERE by INERIS (France), EMEP by MET Norway (Norway), EURAD-IM by Jülich IEK (Germany), LOTOS-EUROS by KNMI and TNO (Netherlands), MATCH by SMHI (Sweden), MOCAGE by Meteo-France (France), SILAM by FMI (Finland), DEHM by AARHUS UNIVERSITY (Denmark) and GEM-AQ by IEP-NRI (Poland), MONARCH by BSC (Spain) and MINNI by ENEA (Italy).

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