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JRC article awarded the Atmospheric Environment 2014 Haagen-Smit Prize


The committee for the selection of the Haagen-Smit Prize, given annually to a maximum of two outstanding papers published in Atmospheric Environment, has announced that the single winner of the Atmospheric Environment 2014 Haagen-Smit Prize is a paper led by JRC scientist Jean-Philippe Putaud and al. entitled “A European aerosol phenomenology—2: chemical characteristics of particulate matter at kerbside, urban, rural and background sites in Europe”, which was published in 2004.

The paper was selected by an international selection committee made up of members from the UK, Japan, Germany, Australia, India and the USA. The committee congratulated the authors and nominators of the paper, stating that the findings of the paper “are indeed contributions that we can all be proud of”. The paper was cited more than 400 times in the peer-reviewed literature so far, in a variety of journals including Science, Inhalation toxicology, Remote sensing of the environment, Hypertension, and Climate of the past.

The article presents a picture of what was known and not known at the time of publication regarding European aerosol chemical composition, based on particulate matter (PM2.5 and PM10) chemistry data collected over a period of 10 years from 24 European sites. These measurements, which were taken from various natural, rural, near-city, urban and kerbside sites, were the first of their kind, as they were not made at that time by regulatory monitoring networks.

The authors found carbonaceous components (organic matter and elemental carbon) to be the major constituents of these aerosols for all sites except natural and rural sites, for which non-sea salt sulphate was found to be the main component. Mineral dust was found to be a major contributor to PM10 at kerbside sites only.

The annual average concentrations of the main constituents of PM10, at various sites across Europe, as known in 2004.

The paper is the complement of another JRC-led paper, Van Dingenen et al. (2004), which presents the policy background and the physical characteristics of PM2.5 and PM10. Both papers aimed to show how research programmes can provide information to help determine the sources and potential effects of such aerosols on human health and climate. They recommended that new approaches be developed to bridge the technological gap between scientific measurements and regulatory monitoring networks, for example by establishing supersites such as the US Environment Protection Agency, and that greater investments in data analysis be made. Since then, standardised measurements of organic and elemental carbon as well as of essential physical characteristics of the aerosols have started in many EMEP stations across Europe, thanks to the EC-funded projects EUSAAR and ACTRIS. The data obtained by this network of “supersites” are nowadays widely used and analysed, even by external users.

The "Haagen-Smit Award/Prize"
The "Haagen-Smit Award/Prize", first launched in year 2001, is designed to recognise outstanding papers published in Atmospheric Environment. The prize is named in honor of Prof. Arie Jan Haagen-Smit, a pioneer in the field of air pollution and one of the first editors of the International Journal of Air Pollution, a predecessor to Atmospheric Environment. The goal of this prize is to showcase the excellent science that has been published in this distinguished journal and to further attract outstanding future research.

Euronews features JRC research on forest fluxes and climate change

img 29/09/2014

IES scientists were recently interviewed at the JRC’s ABC-IS forest flux monitoring station in Ispra for Euronews SCI-TECH futuris feature on the role of forests in the global climate equation.

Forests absorb carbon dioxide (CO2) and emit oxygen during the day, when sunlight drives photosynthesis, but this is reversed at night when the forest emits CO2. The JRC monitors the amount of CO2, water, energy and Ozone that is taken up or emitted by a forest in northern Italy, and thus studies exchange processes between the atmosphere and the forest ecosystem in general.

The JRC’s ABC-IS (Atmosphere, Biosphere, Climate – Integrated Station) forest flux station, which was set up in 2012, is designed to monitor long-term CO2 and energy fluxes and thereby the effects of climate change on the forest ecosystem. Long-term measurements will give insights into how forests will react to changing climatic conditions and, in particular, if they can sustain their present role as carbon sinks or if they might even turn into carbon sources.

Since 1998, the JRC also manages a similar forest flux tower installation in San Rossore (Pisa), inside a national park with a typical Mediterranean pine forest. This site is also designed for the long-term monitoring of the ecosystem's carbon budget.

[ Breathing forest: assessing climate change impact on Earth’s lungs ]
[ JRC’s air quality monitoring facilities ]
[ Atmosphere, Biosphere, Climate – Integrated Station (ABC-IS) ]

New laboratory at JRC Ispra

img 25/03/2014

A new laboratory with a 100 meter high tower for air quality research is being built at JRC Ispra. The tower will be used for air sampling to support JRC activities on the monitoring of air pollutant and greenhouse gases.

The new building will consist of a single-storey 250m² building and a 100m tower. The building will host laboratories for atmospheric research and space for technical support, as well as an area for visitors. The 100m tower will not contain any capture/repeat device for telecommunications, but will contain (plastic and metal) sampling lines along with host measurement instrumentation when needed. The height of the tower is based on the ICOS requirement for continental stations. In a site such as Ispra, 100m is the minimum height required. Construction work began in November 2013 and are expected to be finished by the end of 2014.

The JRC has been measuring changes in chemical and physical components of the atmosphere since 1985. This activity has been carried out by the Air and Climate Unit (IES) since 2002. This work is part of the European Commission contribution to several international programmes, including the European Monitoring and Evaluation Programme (EMEP), the UN Convention on Long-range Transboundary Air Pollution and the Integrated Carbon Observation System (ICOS).

European guide to identify pollution sources using receptor models

img 26/02/2014

The IES has published a JRC Reference Report containing a guide and a European harmonised protocol for identifying atmospheric pollution sources using receptor models. This report has been compiled in collaboration with the European networks of experts in the field of air quality modelling (FAIRMODE) and measurements (AQUILA).

The reduction of pollution at its source is one of the overarching principles of the EU’s Thematic Strategy on Air Pollution. Therefore, to implement the EU Air Quality Directives, identification and quantification of source contributions to air pollution, a practice known as source apportionment, is essential. This task can be accomplished using different approaches, by using source-oriented models (which process information on emissions and meteorology) or receptor-oriented models (which use measurements carried out in a specific site - the receptor).

The objective of the report is to disseminate and promote the best available methodologies for source apportionment using receptor models and to harmonise their application across Europe. It includes tutorials, technical recommendations and checklists.

The application of the harmonised protocol is expected to provide authorities involved in air quality management with access to transparent and comparable information that can be used as input data in scenario or cost-benefit analyses. The methodology will contribute to the improvement of the quality and comparability of data reported by Member States to the European Commission under the scheme for reciprocal exchange of information and reporting on ambient air quality.

[ Belis C.A., Larsen B., Amato F., El Haddad I., Favez O., Harrison R., Hopke P., Nava S., Paatero P., Prevot A.S.H., Quass U., Vecchi R., Viana M. (2014). European guide on air pollution source apportionment with receptor models, EUR 26080 ]
[ Forum for air quality monitoring in Europe (FAIRMODE) ]
[ Air Quality Reference Laboratories (AQUILA) ]
[ Thematic Strategy on Air Pollution ]
[ EU Air Quality Directives ]
[ Scheme for reciprocal exchange of information and reporting on ambient air quality ]
[ Belis C.A., Karagulian F., Larsen B.R., Hopke P.K. (2013). Critical review and meta analysis of Source Apportionment with Receptor Models in Europe. Atmospheric Environment 69 94-108 ]
[ Karagulian F., Belis C.A. (2012). Enhancing Source Apportionment with receptor models to Foster the Air Quality Directive Implementation. International Journal of Environmental Pollution 50, 190-199 ]
[ JRC Source Apportionment website ]

Good news on global CO2 emissions

img 31.10.2013

IES scientists G. Janssens-Maenhout and M. Muntean are co-authors of the ‘Trends in Global CO2 Emissions – 2013 Report’, which reports a first sign of a slowdown in the annual increase in global carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions in 2012. The report, the latest in an annual series produced jointly by the JRC and the PBL Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency, was published on 31 October 2013.

Global emissions of CO2 – the main cause of human-induced global warming – increased by only 1.1% in 2012, less than half the average of 2.7% of annual growth rates since 2000, and significantly lower than the 2011 emissions growth rate of 3%. This is even more remarkable the fact that it comes at a time when the global economy continued to grow at a rate of 3.5%. These encouraging signs indicate a global shift to less carbon-intensive industry with a fuel shift from coal to gas, increasing use of renewable energy and increased energy savings.

The main emitters in 2012, accounting for 55% of the global total, were China, the US and the European Union. Emissions from China increased by 3%; significantly less than the annual increases of around 10% over the past decade. This could be due to a slowdown in Chinese growth in line with their 12th 5-year plan, and to the exceptional growth in their use of hydropower for generating electricity.

In 2012, consumption of natural gas increased by 2.2% (the United States is currently the world’s largest gas producer), whereas oil products only increased by 0.9%, and coal only by 0.6% (China is still the world’s largest coal consumer) compared to 2011. However, Europe’s coal consumption increased by 3% (with major increases in the United Kingdom, Spain and Germany), which indicates that relatively cheap coal was used to supplement renewable energies and make up for the reduced share of nuclear energy. The increase in the share of renewable energy sources (solar, wind and biofuel) is accelerating: it took 15 years from 1992 for the share to double from 0.5% to 1.1%, but only six more years to do so again, to 2.4% in 2012.

The report suggests that the rate of growth in global emissions could further slow down if (a) China achieves its target of a maximum level of energy consumption by 2015 and its shift to 10% natural gas by 2020; (b) the United States continues to shift towards more gas and renewable energy use; and (c) European Union Member States agree on restoring the effectiveness of the EU Emissions Trading System (EU ETS) to further reduce actual emissions.

G. Janssens-Maenhout is quoted as saying "It is good news but still not sufficient. We are still having increases every year which are cumulating in the atmosphere over the next decades to an amount with such global warming potential that it endangers the 2 degrees target."

Please note that the figures have been corrected to account for the leap year that fell in 2012.

[ Olivier J.G.J., Janssens-Maenhout G., Muntean M., Peters J.A.H.W. (2013): Trends in global CO2 emissions: 2013 Report. ISBN: 978-94-91506-51-2, PBL publication number: 1148, JRC Technical Note number: JRC83593, EUR number: EUR 26098 EN ]
[ JRC’s Emissions Database for Global Atmospheric Research (EDGAR) ]

IES featured in Euronews programme on air pollution research

img 22.10.2013

IES scientists J. Hjorth and P. Rocha e Abreu were interviewed in a Euronews futuris feature on IES air pollution and atmospheric activities, which was broadcasted on 21 October 2013. The feature shows how the IES uses an automatic monitoring station on board a commercial cruise ship to measure air pollution over the Western Mediterranean.
The IES uses this facility to collect particle samples for laboratory analyses and for continuous measurements of sulphur dioxide (SO2), nitrogen oxides (NOx), soot, carbon monoxide and ozone. The measured data is sent by satellite Internet to the JRC’s headquarters in Ispra, where it is used for scientific studies of air pollution and testing of air pollution simulation models. These measurements help to better understand different sources of air pollution and to check the effectiveness of policy measures.
Euronews ‘futuris’ programmes cover the latest news about the leading scientific and technological research projects in Europe – “Unlocking the secrets of research, science & technology”.

[ Euronews ‘futuris’ programme: Something in the air (21.10.2013) ]
[ Shipborne observations of air pollutants over the Western Mediterranean ]
[ Air and Climate Unit of the JRC ]
[ IES study finds air quality improved as a result of EU policies ]

Source Apportionment of Atmospheric Pollutants Workshop

img 27-28 February 2013, JRC Ispra (IT)

Quantifying the contribution of emission sources to atmospheric pollution is a key element for the development of any effective air quality management policy. Indeed, source apportionment (SA) is required for the implementation of the Directives on Air Quality (Directives 2008/50/EC and 2004/107/EC).
In order to fill a gap in the knowledge about the assessment of SA models’ performances, the JRC launched in 2010 an initiative for the evaluation and harmonization of SA techniques, initially focused on receptor models (RM).
The initiative, involving European experts and scientists from USA and South America, consists of three main activities:
- to accomplish a review on the use of RM in Europe,
- to organize European-wide intercomparsion exercises for RM, and
- to develope a European common technical protocol for RM.

The outcome of this and other initiatives will be presented and discussed in the third Workshop on “Source Apportionment of Atmospheric Pollutants”, co-organised by the JRC and ACCENT PLUS, that will take place at the JRC Ispra site on 27-28 February 2013. The workshop is aimed at European and international experts working on identification of atmospheric pollutant sources.
Keynote address on 'New tools for improved analyses with Positive Matrix Factorization' will be given by Professor Philip K. Hopke - Director of the Center for the Environment and Director of the Center for Air Resources Engineering and Science, Clarkson University (NY) USA.
For more details see the attached draft agenda.

[ Draft Agenda ]

Ship-borne measurements show EU policies have improved air quality in harbours

img Sulphur dioxide emissions from shipping have sharply decreased in EU ports thanks to stricter EU rules for sulphur content in fuels used by ships at berth or at anchor in ports. Scientists at the Joint Research Centre (JRC), the Commission's in-house science service, measured key air quality parameters in Mediterranean harbours before and after the entry into force of the low-sulphur requirements in January 2010. They found that in the EU harbours Civitavecchia, Savona, Barcelona and Palma de Mallorca, the concentration of sulphur dioxide had fallen by 66% on average. Sulphur dioxide is one of the main chemicals responsible for formation of acid rain and particulate air pollution, posing risks to human health and the environment. Measurements taken in the port of Tunis, where the EU rules do not apply, showed that levels of this noxious substance remained the same.
The JRC study published today in the scientific journal Atmospheric Environment confirms that the decreases in sulphur dioxide and consequently the improvement of the air quality in harbours are a direct consequence of the application of EU requirements.
The air quality measurements were carried out using an automated monitoring station on the cruise ship Costa Pacifica which followed a fixed weekly route in the Western Mediterranean during 2009 and 2010.

[ Read more ] - [ News release [EN] ]- [ News release [IT] ]


Research at JRC in Support of EU Climate Change Policy Making

This fourth edition of "Research at JRC in Support of EU Climate Change Policy Making" describes JRC research activities and results that contributed to EC policy initiatives on climate change.

This booklet further presents a wide range of activities that need to be addressed in order to contribute to a sound science base for future policy action. The full series of the report contains information on the JRC's work in the field since 2003.

Download the reports from:
[ Durban, 2011 ] - [ Copenhagen, 2009 ] - [ Bali, 2007 ] - [ Montreal, 2005 ]

Per capita CO2 emissions in China reach EU levels

Global emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) – the main cause of global warming – increased by 3% last year. In China, the world’s most populous country, average emissions of CO2 increased by 9% to 7.2 tonnes per capita, bringing China within the range of 6 to 19 tonnes per capita emissions of the major industrialised countries. In the European Union, CO2 emissions dropped by 3% to 7.5 tonnes per capita. The United States remain one of the largest emitters of CO2, with 17.3 tonnes per capita, despite a decline due to the recession in 2008-2009, high oil prices and an increased share of natural gas. According to the annual report ‘Trends in global CO2 emissions’, released today by the JRC and the Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency (PBL), the top emitters contributing to the global 34 billion tonnes of CO2 in 2011 are: China (29%), the United States (16%), the European Union (11%), India (6%), the Russian Federation (5%) and Japan (4%). With 3%, the 2011 increase in global CO2 emissions is above the past decade's average annual increase of 2.7%. An estimated cumulative global total of 420 billion tonnes of CO2 has been emitted between 2000 and 2011 due to human activities, including deforestation. Scientific literature suggests that limiting the rise in average global temperature to 2°C above pre-industrial levels – the target internationally adopted in UN climate negotiations – is possible only if cumulative CO2 emissions in the period 2000–2050 do not exceed 1 000 to 1 500 billion tonnes. If the current global trend of increasing CO2 emissions continues, cumulative emissions will surpass this limit within the next two decades

[ Trends in global CO2 emissions ] - [ Press release ]


GHG in AFOLU data: Green House Gases in Agriculture, Forestry and Other Land Uses

Related to implementation of the Kyoto Protocol, provides an overview on policies and bodies; a toolbox for estimating GHG and Carbon fluxes and stocks based on research, models and data.

[ read more ]


Ecosystems and their role in fighting Climate Change

To understand and quantify the carbon balance of a mediterranean forest ecosystem and its vulnerability to climate change, the JRC-IES has a test site in San Rossore (Pisa, Italia).

read more... [ for scientists ] [ for public ]


Regional Climate Model: Climate Scenarios for Europe

Do we understand the present climate over Europe and can we predict its changes in the future? Which tools are available to investigate the complex relationships between natural systems and human activities? Are we able to predict the impacts of the changing climate on the environment (floods/droughts, agriculture, etc.)?

[ read more... ]


Consequences of man-made Nitrogen input into the world's oceans

A large amount of nitrogen compounds are emitted into the atmosphere by humans, through the burning of fossil fuels and the use of fertilizers. Frank Dentener has co-authored a study published in Science Magazine.

[ read more... ]


Evaluating the efficiency of environmental policies in Europe and in the world

What is the actual impact of air pollution locally and on global scale? What can be expected from the implementation of emission ceilings and other measures that are gradually being implemented? How will policies aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions help to further improve the air quality? What is the optimal mix of measures to obtain the desired targets in terms of air quality and climate?

read more... [ for scientists ] [ for public ]

Costa Fortuna at Savona, May 2006

Measuring Air Pollution over the Mediterranean Sea from a cruise Ship assisting the CCU with their measurements of Air Pollution (ozone and black carbon) in the Mediterranean Basin.

read more... [ for scientists ] [ for public ]

edgar logo

EDGAR, Emission Database for Global Atmospheric Research

The EDGAR v4.0 provides insight in 36 years (1970-2005) global past and present day anthropogenic emissions of greenhouse gases and air pollutants by country and on spatial grid.

[ read more ]


Determining the impact of air pollution on climate

Air pollutants like aerosol particles play an important role in the Earth's climate, because the interfere with the radiative transfer through the atmosphere.

read more... [ for scientists ] [ for public ]


Assesment of global air pollution

The TM5 model is a 3D atmospheric chemistry-transport ZOOM model. It allows the definition of arbitrary zoom regions, which are 2-way nested into the global model. Thus simulations at relatively high spatial resolution (currently 1x1 degrees longitude-latitude) can be performed over selected regions, with boundary conditions always provided consistently from the global model.

read more... [ for scientists ] [ for public ]

The CCAQU report series

title summary lang link
EN download
EN download
EN download
IT download
IT download

[ read more ]

CCAQU Seminars

when where what who doc
Room Acqua, Bld 100 Effect of a NO2 Emission Limit on Urban Air Quality Mr Bart Degraeuwe, Air and Cliamte Unit link
Room Acqua - Floor 1 - Bld 100 Methodologies and tools to support Integrated Assessment for regional air quality plans Mr Enrico Pisoni - Air and Climate Unit link
Room Raffaello, Bld 26A Citizens' support for GHG emission reduction programmes Mr Alessandro Cerutti and Mr Simone Martelli, Edgar Team Air and Climate Unit link
Room 2102, second floor, Bld. 100 Automated screening of spatio-temporal outliers in large-scale air quality observation records Mr Oliver Kracht, Air and Climate Unit link

[ read more ]


We are part of the European Commission Joint Research Centre (JRC), and work within its institute for Environment and Sustainability (IES). We provide scientific support for the development and monitoring of European policies in the area of regional and global air pollution and climate change: the Kyoto protocol and beyond.

what YOU can do
  • CHANGE: You control climate change
  • Agathe Power - energy consumers rights campaign
  • mobGAS - Knowing your contribution to climate
INFORM yourself
  • Booklets produced by CCU
  • Check the current air quality in Ispra (VA), Italy
what JRC does
  • JRC Priority area - Climate Change
what EUROPA does
  • EUROPA - DG Research - Climate Change
  • EUROPA - DG Environment - Climate Change
  • EUROPA - DG CLIMA - Climate Change
  • Energy for a Changing World
  • EUROPA - DG Agriculture
  • EUROPA - Eurostat
  • European Environment Agency
what OTHERS do
  • UN - Kyoto protocol
  • UNECE - United Nations Economic Commission for Europe
  • United Nations Environment Programme
  • RealClimate - Climate Science
  • Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change

JRCThe mission of the JRC is to provide customer-driven scientific and technical support for the conception, development, implementation and monitoring of EU policies. As a service of the European Commission, the JRC functions as a reference centre of science and technology for the Union. Close to the policy-making process, it serves the common interest of the Member States, while being independent of special interests, whether private or national.

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