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Air quality: New tools for investigating pollution

Project Description

Air quality continues to be a major issue facing both developed and developing countries, with outdoor pollution estimated to annually cause around 3 million premature deaths worldwide. A variety of sources of pollutants contribute, which include road vehicles, industry, domestic heating, cooking, power generation and agriculture. While pollutants such as carbon monoxide and sulphur dioxide are no longer deemed to be an issue in the UK, nitrogen dioxide continues to be a problem, associated with emissions from diesel engines. It is also recognised that pollutants such as particulate matter (PM) associated with the rising popularity of wood burning are posing an emerging threat. Furthermore, emerging metrics of air quality such as black carbon (BC) and ultrafine particles (UFP) that require further investigation. The Centre for Atmospheric Science at The University of Manchester has long been involved in the investigation of pollutants in cities in the UK and worldwide and been at the forefront of using detailed online measurements of the composition of particulates to infer their sources.

This work will build on our previous work investigating air quality in the UK and abroad, involving state-of-the-art instrumentation and data analysis methodologies and capitalize on a new long-term ‘supersite’ operated by CAS. This will involve both making new measurements, in terms of long-term monitoring activities and short-term ‘intensive’ measurements, and the further analysis of existing datasets. As well as measurements of established pollution metrics, the work will involve the use of aerosol mass spectrometry (AMS) to measure particulate composition, optical measurements of black carbon (e.g. with the multiwavelength Aethalometer), one trace metals and measurements of particle number and size. Also, more novel measurement techniques could also be explored such as networks of low-cost sensors. There will be opportunities to apply detailed mathematical techniques such as positive matrix factorization to evaluate the sources of pollution. There will be many opportunities for engaging with a number of partners. This may include other collaborating institutes studying different aspects of air pollution as part of the same or related projects, a network of European scientists developing the techniques being used, scientists in related disciplines (e.g. those studying impacts on health) and stakeholders in local government.

Funding Notes

Studentships are fully funded by The University of Manchester and will provide a stipend (currently £14,777 pa), training support fee and UK/EU tuition fees for 3.5 years. Formal training is offered through partnership between the Universities of Manchester and Liverpool in both subject specific and transferable skills to the entire PhD cohort and at each University through local Faculty training programmes. Candidates from the UK and European Union are eligible for full studentship awards.

There will be a fixed date of 26th February 2019 for interviews; successful candidates will be invited by 19th February.


• Allan, J. D., Williams, P. I., Morgan, W. T., Martin, C. L., Flynn, M. J., Lee, J., Nemitz, E., Phillips, G. J., Gallagher, M. W., and Coe, H.: Contributions from transport, solid fuel burning and cooking to primary organic aerosols in two UK cities, Atmos. Chem. Phys., 10, 647-668, 10.5194/acp-10-647-2010, 2010.
• Liu, D., Allan, J. D., Young, D. E., Coe, H., Beddows, D., Fleming, Z. L., Flynn, M. J., Gallagher, M. W., Harrison, R. M., Lee, J., Prevot, A. S. H., Taylor, J. W., Yin, J., Williams, P. I., and Zotter, P.: Size distribution, mixing state and source apportionment of black carbon aerosol in London during wintertime, Atmos. Chem. Phys., 14, 10061-10084, 10.5194/acp-14-10061-2014, 2014.
• Young, D. E., Allan, J. D., Williams, P. I., Green, D. C., Flynn, M. J., Harrison, R. M., Yin, J., Gallagher, M. W., and Coe, H.: Investigating the annual behaviour of submicron secondary inorganic and organic aerosols in London, Atmos. Chem. Phys., 15, 6351-6366, 10.5194/acp-15-6351-2015, 2015.
• Reyes-Villegas, E., Green, D. C., Priestman, M., Canonaco, F., Coe, H., Prévôt, A. S. H., and Allan, J. D.: Organic Aerosol source apportionment in London 2013 with ME-2: exploring the solution space with annual and seasonal analysis, Atmos. Chem. Phys. Discuss., 2016, 1-18, 10.5194/acp-2016-465, 2016.

Related Subjects

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FTE Category A staff submitted: 42.13

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