UK ammonia emissions map

The modelled spatial distribution of ammonia emissions from agriculture in the UK in 2015, from a UKCEH report for Defra

A diverse range of UK experts will develop a user-friendly modelling system that provides a consistent and sophisticated approach to producing data on pollutant emissions.

The two-year project, led by the UK Centre for Ecology & Hydrology (UKCEH), is being funded by a £1.15m grant from the Met Office as part of the UK Research and Innovation’s Strategic Priority Fund Clean Air programme.

The new UK-Emission Modelling System (UK-EMS) will provide a framework for emission modelling, enabling researchers to better estimate existing pollutant levels and evaluate future scenarios, both at local and national scales. The resulting comprehensive and flexible datasets will inform UK air quality assessments and policies.

The computer-based modelling system will produce maps estimating emissions of all major air pollutants and greenhouse gases – from transport, industrial, agricultural and domestic sources – at different geographical locations.

Scientists behind the new project say UK-EMS will be more flexible than current systems, because it will allow users to vary different emission factors such as changes in transport use and industrial production or cleaner technology. This will enable better predictions of future emissions in a range of scenarios. Researchers will also be able to see how the system has calculated emissions.

Professor Stefan Reis, UKCEH’s Science Area Head for Atmospheric Chemistry and Effects and co-ordinator of the project, explains: “The UK has ample expertise in the development of emission inventories for official reporting. What was missing is a flexible and open system for the atmospheric modelling community to generate emission data in a transparent and reproducible way.

"With UK-EMS, we will deliver this system, working in close collaboration with the modelling community and with input from stakeholders in policy departments and regulatory agencies.”

The focus of our work is not on blue-sky thinking, but supporting and enabling robust scientific research and sound decision making - Professor Stefan Reis

The project team includes UKCEH, the University of York, the University of Manchester, the University of Birmingham, King’s College London, Imperial College London, Rothamsted Research, Ricardo Energy & Environment, and Aether. The multidisciplinary team covers a range of expertise in atmospheric pollutant emissions, modelling, data sciences and analytics.

UK-EMS will be used by atmospheric modellers as well as policymakers and regulators, who rely on reliable emissions data.

Professor Reis says: “The focus of our work is not on blue-sky thinking, but supporting and enabling robust scientific research and sound decision making.

"The new system will be jointly developed with, and for, both researchers and stakeholders. It will establish a consistent approach for providing emissions data at a range of geographical scales for a wide range of uses.”

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