Results of project PEGASOS, co-ordinated by Prof. Spyros Pandis, Collaborating Faculty Member of FORTH/ICE-HT, are used to improve air quality in Europe and to limit climate change
Scientists are more certain than ever that humans are the cause of global warming, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) said in its most authoritative report to date, drawing on millions of scientific observations – many of which were gathered by scientists in Europe.
The data used to compile the report include the results of the EU-funded large-scale project PEGASOS, co-ordinated by Prof. Spyros Pandis, Collaborating Faculty Member of FORTH/ICE-HT. These results are based on air quality measurements over Europe by the Zeppelin used PEGASOS.
The major policy-relevant conclusions of PEGASOS were:
- A variety of EU air quality policies since 1970 have avoided a dramatic deterioration of air quality in Europe
- The EURO norms, and fuel quality directives (sulfur) were among the most influential policies
- EU policies have increased life expectancy of people in Europe by 5 months
- The introduction of EURO standards led to reduction of worldwide ozone levels (+0.3% crop production).
- There is a range of available policies for additional air quality improvement in Europe
- Some are not so obvious options: reductions of ammonia, residential and agricultural biomass burning, etc.
- Their effect on climate will be limited.
- Global temperature response due to a range of air pollution emission changes will vary from +0.3 to -0.2 K during the next 40 years
- Air pollution trajectories in emerging economies will have larger effect on climate.
- In Europe the warming for global maximum reductions would be 0.5°C and in the Arctic 0.8°C.
- Aerosols effects are not necessarily in the regions of emissions.
- These impacts are relatively small compared to the effect of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases.
- On longer timescales the abatement of methane emissions will reduce global temperature by 0.2°C and also reduce ozone.
- Air quality/climate policies co-benefits depend on type of pollutant:
- They are important for sulfur dioxide and oxides of nitrogen but less so for volatile organic compounds
- Climate and air pollution policies can reduce ozone concentrations globally
- The feedback from climate change on air quality will be heterogeneous across Europe, seasons, and type of pollution resulting in:
- increases in ozone but also increases/decreases of PM
- potentially significant increase of wildfire emissions
- increased biogenic emissions due to increased temperature will increase ozone in polluted areas
- Ambitious emission controls will have larger impacts on air quality than climate change.