7–8.8 million pollution-related deaths occur annually. A major concern for local authorities is how to develop policies and regulations which, when implemented, will improve air quality and mitigate exposure. This requires knowledge of how pollutant levels change over time in specific locations at high resolution. Advanced forecasting and modelling techniques are complementary to typically sparsely located monitoring networks—but validating these models in a real urban environment poses a significant challenge. The overall goal of the proposed project is to show that UAS have value in validation of city-scale CFD and air quality modelling by performing airflow mapping of complex environments. There are two approaches to take: wind estimation using the IMU and other data collected on the UAS; or the UAS detecting concentrations of atmospheric tracers such as deliberate gas/aerosol releases. The engineering of the wind estimator and air quality sensors will be handled by Menapia, but the student could perform validation using field campaign data. Next the student can consider airflow mapping approaches (including UAS swarms) and test them in field experiments with assistance from Menapia, followed by CFD verification. If time permits, the research could be combined to ‘hunt’ for the source of pollutant releases.
The desired project outcomes are:
- Validate the limits and uncertainties in wind estimation and gas/aerosol measurements on-board the UAS.
- Develop observing strategies for airflow mapping around complex objects with UAS, with the option for: gas/aerosol tracer experiments, multiple UAS in the air simultaneously in swarm formations
- Validate CFD models of a complex environment (urban area, airport, wind farm etc.), either working with industry sponsor partners or by designing your own experiment(s) in the field.
- A stretch goal would be to demonstrate the efficacy of observing strategies for identifying the source of pollutant releases.
From these project outcomes it is likely that several high-impact publications will arise, as well as the creation of several citable datasets on a national archive. Close partnership with the industry sponsors based in Leeds will ensure a good balance of academic and industrial experience for the researcher who undertakes this project.