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Chemical Weather: Identifying the Meteorological Controls on Air Quality

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  • Full or part time
    Dr O Wild
  • Application Deadline
    No more applications being accepted
  • Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)
    Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

Project Description

Urban air pollution is a major problem in many parts of the world, and is particularly acute in rapidly-developing countries such as China and India. Large increases in vehicle ownership and power generation have led to more frequent and severe urban smog episodes in expanding megacities like Beijing and Delhi. High levels of ozone and particulate matter have damaging impacts on human health and are responsible for 7 million deaths per year worldwide, 6 million of which are in Asia. While severe air pollution is typically attributed to precursor emissions from energy and transport use, meteorological processes play an important but poorly understood role in the transport, transformation and removal of pollutants. Stagnant, high pressure weather conditions permit the build-up of pollutants to dangerous levels, pollution haze reduces ventilation of the urban boundary layer, and winds from surrounding rural regions bring pollutants from industrial and agricultural sources which combine with urban pollutants to form hazardous smog. Control and mitigation of urban air pollution relies on a sound understanding of how these different meteorological influences combine to affect the quality of the air we breathe.

This project will explore the role of meteorological processes in governing urban air quality, using Beijing as a case study. This study of “Chemical Weather” will identify and quantify the meteorological mechanisms responsible for the formation and evolution of pollution episodes. It will use a state-of-the-art numerical weather prediction and air quality model along with extensive pollutant measurements from partners in Beijing. Key scientific questions include: How do anticyclones and cold fronts drive the strong day-to-day variations seen in air quality? How does atmospheric mixing in the polluted urban boundary layer affect human exposure? How does pollutant transport from outside the city contribute to poor urban air quality? The project will deliver new understanding of the meteorological controls on urban air quality and provide the student with a strong foundation in numerical modelling, atmospheric science and their wider applications. There will be an opportunity to visit partners in Beijing to collaborate and to contribute to recently-funded UK projects addressing air quality in polluted megacities in Asia. While the principal focus will be on Beijing, we expect the findings to be of direct relevance to other cities, e.g., Delhi, and to shape policy approaches to mitigating air pollution worldwide.

Further Information: http://www.lancaster.ac.uk/sci-tech/downloads/phd_263.pdf

Academic Requirements: First-class or 2.1 (Hons) degree, or Masters degree (or equivalent) in an appropriate subject.

Deadline for applications: 14 February 2016

Provisional Interview Date: [tbc] Week Beginning 29 February 2016

Start Date: October 2016

Application process: Please upload a completed application form (download from http://www.lancaster.ac.uk/media/lancaster-university/content-assets/documents/lec/pg/LEC_Funded_PhD_Application_Form.docx) outlining your background and suitability for this project and a CV at LEC Postgraduate Research Applications, http://www.lec.lancs.ac.uk/postgraduate/pgresearch/apply-online.

You also require two references, please send the reference form (download from http://www.lancaster.ac.uk/media/lancaster-university/content-assets/documents/lec/pg/LEC_Funded_PhD_Reference_Form.docx) to your two referees and ask them to email it to Andy Harrod ([email protected]), Postgraduate Research (PGR) Co-ordinator, Lancaster Environment Centre by the deadline.

Due to the limited time between the closing date and the interview date, it is essential that you ensure references are submitted by the closing date or as soon as possible.

Funding Notes

Full studentships (UK/EU tuition fees and stipend (£14,057 2015/16 [tax free])) for UK/EU students for 3.5 years or full studentships (International tuition fees and stipend (£14,057 2015/16 [tax free])) for International students for 3 years.


1. Chan, C. K., and X. Yao, Air pollution in megacities in China, Atmospheric Environment, 42, 1-42, 2008.
2. Gao, Y., X. Liu, C. Zhao, and M. Zhang, Emission controls versus meteorological conditions in determining aerosol concentrations in Beijing during the 2008 Olympic Games, Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics, 11, 12437-12451, 2011.
3. Parrish, D., and T. Zhu, Clean air for megacities, Science, 326, 674-675, 2009.
4. Streets, D., et al., Air quality during the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, Atmospheric Environment, 41, 480-492, 2007.
5. Tang, X., Z. Wang, J. Zhu, A. E. Gbaguidi, Q. Wu, J. Li, and T. Zhu, Sensitivity of ozone to precursor emissions in urban Beijing with a Monte Carlo scheme, Atmospheric Environment, 44, 3833-3842, 2010.

How good is research at Lancaster University in Earth Systems and Environmental Sciences?

FTE Category A staff submitted: 44.90

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