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Integration of European Simulation Chambers for Investigating Atmospheric Processes – Towards 2020 and beyond

Periodic Reporting for period 3 - EUROCHAMP-2020 (Integration of European Simulation Chambers for Investigating Atmospheric Processes – Towards 2020 and beyond)

Reporting period: 2019-12-01 to 2021-08-31

Predicting the behaviour of the atmosphere over all time scales is a very exciting scientific challenge, and it brings great benefits to the European society and economy. Examples include short-term public warnings of hazardous air quality and the long-term evaluation of climate change and consequent policy decisions. Atmospheric predictions use complex models that are underpinned by observations and a sound understanding of the underlying processes and interactions between atmospheric components and the environment. Atmospheric simulation chambers are among the most advanced tools for studying and quantifying atmospheric processes and are used to provide many of the parameters incorporated in air quality and climate models. EUROCHAMP-2020 is aiming to play a central role in enabling European researchers to tackle these grand challenges by providing a sustainable, integrated, distributed infrastructure of atmospheric simulation chambers to support detailed studies of the atmospheric processes that govern both air quality and climate, as well as their impacts on the environment and society.
EUROCHAMP-2020 has given the atmopsheric chemistry community the opportunity to enhance simulation chambers’ technical capabilities, to further integrate the simulation chamber community and to extend the user base to support new researchers from academia and industry, who could benefit from the infrastructure to tackle atmospheric research grand challenges. The project allowed to create a sustainable infrastructure to support studies of the atmospheric processes that govern both air quality and climate, as well as their impacts on the environment and society.
An overview of the project results shows that a higher level of integration and a better characterization of the chambers were achieved thanks to the work of WP2. One of the main achievements of WP3 relies in the formalising of well-established reference protocols for simulation chamber operation as well as their compilation of the chambers’ manual “Handbook for atmospheric simulation chambers”, the main dissemination tool of the work performed in the project. In parallel, new scientific questions were addressed, such as the impact of air pollution on human health or on monuments’ preservation, thanks to new protocols and capabilities of chambers, developed in WP10. The improvement of chambers lied also in the work performed within WP11 to develop algorithms and models to get the most benefit from chamber experiments. At the end of EUROCHAMP-2020, all WP11 model tools developed were fully operational and applied in WP11 activities. They were made freely available through the EUROCHAMP Data Centre. The application of the models has resulted in high quality publications across the RI remit with both model-specific and measurement interpretation foci.
The EUROCHAMP Data Centre underwent a very significant development both in quantity and in quality of the data sharing with users. The interface was significantly improved, the option of DOI for datasets was included, and one new pillar (Library of Advanced Data Products) was added. In conclusion the objectives of doubling the number of data in the first pillar and of providing numerous advanced products have been reached. Today, EUROCHAMP DC is the richest database of atmospheric simulation chamber data and data products in the world. In the future, this database will be maintained and will become part of ACTRIS DC.
Finally, the TNA programme has been the key pillar of the project. It has allowed more than 350 users to benefit from access to our facilities and it has made it possible to perform almost 150 between research and calibration projects. This has been possible also thanks to the remarkable communication work performed by WP6 to reach out to new users, and by WP4’s efforts to involve the private sector. Thanks to WP4’s work, 9 companies became Associated Partners and 12 TNA projects took place with industry users. Overall, there were more than 25 separate collaborations between project partners and private sector companies.
Finally, attention was paid to the long-term sustainability of our infrastructure (WP5), which was guaranteed by the full integration into the ACTRIS RI and the creation of a dedicated place for chambers’ scientific strategy in the ACTRIS governance. The importance of maintaining state-of-the-art simulation chamber facilities is now recognized in the ACTRIS-related investment plans in many involved countries and considered as a key branch of ACTRIS scientific strategy to accompany observation studies with experimentation work.
The project focused on developing a distributed infrastructure while, at the same time, working on the improvement of its facilities: this has led to significant impacts ranging from the research communities to the innovation capacity in Europe as well as to societal services.
Its impact for the atmospheric chemistry community can be found in examples like the intercomparison campaigns, the new available protocols and in the publication of the Handbook, a tool for the future generations of researchers in this field. Its cross disciplinary impact can be found 1) in the large number of peer-reviewed articles acknowledging the project (more than 140), coming from very different research areas; 2) in the way our work has benefitted other research communities, such as climate modelling, cryosphere research, medical studies or the study of pathogenic bioaerosols.
Our work has benefitted innovation and technological development in the private sector: new instruments could be developed, tested, and intercompared through the use of simulation chambers. Finally, our work has had repercussions on societal topics of interest for the broader civil society. In fact, the work carried out within the project concerns processes and properties within the atmosphere, and as the public debate on the impact of car emissions on air quality and even on climate change drivers is very present, many partners have started the adaptation of simulation chambers protocols to enable the study of the effects of these sources. This had led to some initial studies measurements of diesel exhaust using long sample times, or on the adverse effects of wood burning and coal on air quality.
Other impacts on societal services are linked to support of the manufacturing industry, the developers, the instrument integrators and the societal services that require operational instruments that can be developed/characterized in chambers. Some of them also need diagnostics about the impact of their technologies on atmospheric environments (adverse effects, pollutant removal efficiencies, etc.).
Finally, during the COVID-19 pandemic many EUROCHAMP-2020 leading scientists contributed as aerosol experts to the public debate on potential aerosol long range COVID-19 contamination. In fact, the whole community turned toward large public communication to explain the airborne nature of transmission as well as the mitigation procedure such as mask wearing or ventilation.
Inside the ESC-Q-UAIC (UAIC) simulation chamber, Romania
HELIOS simulation chamber, France
EUPHORE (CEAM) open air double chamber, in Paterna, Spain
Ensemble of the EUROCHAMP infrastructure: the chambers of all partners of the project
Official logo of the project