8.3   High-resolution air quality modelling in the oil sands

Heather Morrison, Environment Canada



Air Quality Health Index Output from the Air Quality Model during the 2013 AQ Oil Sands Measurement Intensive Campaign (video)

Air Quality Model Output for SO2 Plume Dispersion and Deposition during 2013 AQ Oil Sands Measurement Intensive Campaign (video)

Satellite NO2 Monitoring over the Oil Sands Region (video)



Under the Joint Oil Sands Monitoring Plan, Environment Canada is evaluating and applying its comprehensive, high-resolution air quality forecast model (GEM-MACH) to the oil sands region to quantify the relationship between air pollutant emissions, air quality, Air Quality Health Index and environmental health. The goal of the work is to integrate new information on air pollutant emissions, transformation and transport to answer questions including: Where are air quality concerns occurring?; What emissions sources are causing a concern?;  and, Where should monitoring sites be located? To answer these questions, the model is being used for two types of simulations. The first type is ongoing regular forecasts of air pollution at 2.5km grid-square resolution which are carried out daily and archived for use in cumulative exposure assessments. The second type is retrospective simulations for the time period during which Environment Canada conducted an aircraft and ground-based monitoring intensive campaign (i.e., summer of 2013). These simulations are being used to evaluate the impact of new emissions data and other model improvements on model performance and identify areas where more improvements are required and inform the development of these improvements. Simulations include outputs that support the quantification of acute and cumulative impacts of air pollutants on environmental health. The model output is also being used to evaluate the siting of air quality monitoring stations. This presentation will provide a snapshot of some of the outcomes of this work to date.




Dr. Paul Makar is a Senior Research Scientist within the Air Quality Modelling and Integration Section of Environment Canada. He is one of the architects of the Global Environmental Multiscale – Modelling Air-quality and CHemistry (GEM-MACH) model. His work includes most aspects of air pollution modelling, with recent publications on feedbacks between weather and air pollution, the impact of climate change on air-quality, the manner in which local-scale meteorology influences air pollution, and comparisons between GEM-MACH and other air- quality models. Dr. Heather Morrison is the manager of the Air Quality Modeling and Integration section of the Air Quality Research Division of Environment Canada.