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Achievements: Professor Spyros Pandis, Collaborating Faculty Member of FORTH/ICE-HT, earns an ERC Advanced Investigator Grant for "Atmospheric Organic Particulate Matter, Air Quality and Climate Change Studies"


Dr. Spyros Pandis, Professor of the Department of Chemical Engineering, University of Patras, and Collaborating Faculty Member of the Institute of Chemical Engineering Sciences of the Foundation of Research and Technology-Hellas (FORTH/ICE-HT) has recently been awarded the prestigious European Research Council (ERC) Advanced Investigator Grant for his research proposal entitled "Atmospheric Organic Particulate Matter, Air Quality and Climate Change Studies (ATMOPACS)".

ERC advanced grants awarded on the basis of excellence and for research of the very highest quality at the frontiers of knowledge to reinforce excellence, dynamism and creativity in European research. Funding of ATMOPACS is 2,496,000 Euro for 5 years.

In the past 20 years ambient air pollution, most notably particulate matter (PM), has come to be recognized as a risk factor contributing to declines in respiratory and cardiovascular health and increased risk of acute morbidity and mortality from all non-accidental causes. It has been estimated that a reduction of the ambient concentration of PM by 5 micrograms per cubic metre in Europe can "prevent" between 3000 and 8000 early deaths annually. At the same time, atmospheric aerosol particles influence the Earth's radiation balance directly by scattering and absorbing solar radiation, and indirectly by acting as cloud condensation nuclei (CCN). The role of these particles in the energy balance of our planet is one of the major uncertainties in the global change problem. Some of the key questions involve the formation of new particles, their growth from clusters of a few molecules to CCN sizes (>100 nm) and the formation of cloud droplets.

Organic compounds constitute roughly half of the fine PM mass, residing mostly on accumulation mode particles between about 100 and 800 nm in diameter. However, while the inorganic fraction of fine PM is relatively well understood, significant uncertainty clouds our understanding of almost all facets of organic particulate matter, including its sources, atmospheric transformation, and fate. There is every reason to believe that this uncertainty is highly significant for both the air quality and climate change problems. Organic particulate matter has been implicated as a potential leading contributor to the PM health effects. Organics also represent a significant uncertainty in our understanding of particle-cloud interactions and fresh particle nucleation and growth associated with the aerosol indirect effect, which is the largest climate-forcing uncertainty.

ATMOPACS will develop an innovative new approach for the description of organic particulate matter (or organic aerosol, OA) in both chemical transport and climate models that will be able to overcome the challenges posed by the chemical complexity of OA while capturing its essential features. During ATMOPACS the FORTH team (including Profs. Pilinis, Nenes, Mihalopoulos, Kanakidou, and Stephanou as well as Drs. Fountoukis and Kostenidou) will develop the necessary experimental techniques to characterize the OA, will investigate the most important OA formation and evolution processes, develop the corresponding theoretical tools, and use them to tackle some of the most important problems related to the role of OA in air quality and global change.

ATMOPACS involves a combination of laboratory measurements, field measurements including "atmospheric perturbation experiments", OA simulation module development, and Chemical Transport Modeling in urban, regional, and global scales. Therefore, the project will span the system scales starting from the nanoscale (nucleation) to the full planet. The tools that will be developed will be placed in the public domain and will be made available to other research groups. ATMOPACS will upgrade significantly the air quality-related research infrastructure in Greece and South-East Europe resulting in a state-of-the-art environmental simulation chamber in ICE-HT. This facility will be available to other groups in Greece and other neighbouring countries. Most of the project resources will be used for the training of graduate students and the support of post-doctorate researchers.


For more information please contact with:

Professor Spyros Pandis
FORTH/ICE-HT & Department of Chemical Engineering, University of Patras
Tel.: +30 2610 969 510

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