Air Quality Modelling and Meteorology


Research activities

Numerical models

Statistical methods

Meteorological diagnosis and nowcasting weather forecasting support




The objectives and interests of the Air Quality and Meteorology Group at Izaña Atmospheric Research Centre are guided by the goals established by the Gaw Urban Research Meteorology and Environment (GURME) project for the current planning period (2008-2015). The WMO GURME project is the GAW activity most closely focused on air quality.

Research Activities

Our research is focused on the relationships between Air Quality and Meteorology on both local and regional scales, and on the development and application of new tools to aid understanding and prediction of Air Quality. Numerical meteorological and atmospheric dispersion models provide powerful tools for both research into and prediction of air quality. Sensitivity analyses, data assimilation techniques, evaluation and improvement of the numerical solutions in areas of complex topography and coastal terrain are also among our research interests.

Numerical models

Two mesoscale meteorological models, initialized with the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecast (ECMWF) model output , are currently implemented in a 20 processor cluster. A secondary 12 processor cluster is used for experimental simulations and the study of historical episodes.

The PSU/NCAR mesoscale model MM5 and the Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) Model are used to investigate the features of the flow around the complex topography of the Canary Islands.
The coupling of the output of these meteorological models to atmospheric dispersion models allows us to investigate the behaviour and impact of locally emitted pollutants.

The Hybrid Single Particle Lagrangian Integrated Trajectory Model (HYSPLIT) is currently coupled off-line to the meteorological output of MM5 and produces a forecast up to 72 h twice a day.

The MM5 and HYSPLIT forecasts are used for evaluation purposes, enabling us to estimate the sensitivity and performance of the different configurations of the models. Meteorological observation data from AEMET and Air Quality data provided by the Local Government of the Canary Islands are used for these evaluations. An economical experimental ensemble system is also being evaluated.
Current research is investigating the implementation of the very high resolution (100 m) CALMET/CALPUFF model, coupled with meteorological observations and mesoscale numerical outputs.

Statistical methods

In addition to deterministic numerical modelling methods, a further research interest of the group is the study and application of statistical methods to forecast air pollution episodes. A statistical model based on the analogue method predicts the probability of SO2 concentration exceeding certain thresholds for a measurement station located in Santa Cruz de Tenerife. Ongoing research is being conducted to apply this same method to other locations in Tenerife and Gran Canaria.

A similar application of the analogue method is currently in operation at CIAI for the forecasting of precipitation in the Canary Islands.

Meteorological Diagnosis and Nowcasting weather forecasting support

Within the activities of the Air Quality & Meteorology Program are included those related with atmospheric dynamic studies and specific meteorological forecasts. These activities have the following goals:

– Subjective validation of the meteorological information used for air quality modelling at a regional framework.

– Support to meteorological diagnosis needed by the rest of scientific groups. This is necessary for proper data and results interpretation within scientific projects and measurement programs. This support is made from the lower troposphere to stratospheric levels.

– Provide short and medium term meteorological information to plan outdoors activities (such as experiments, special campaigns, reparation activities, etc.) and, specially, to predict severe weather conditions could affect or impede the sampling activities.

In order to achieve these goals the IARC accounts for different information sources and tools. These include operational synoptic meteorological models (ECMWF, HIRLAM), images and derived products from meteorological satellites (Meteosat Second Generation), meteorological data from ground and altitude world observing networks. This information is received through centralised AEMET’s headquarters at Madrid, the ECMWF (with direct access to the Meteorological Archival and Retrieval System –MARS-), and through a EUMETCast antenna located at the IARC’s headquarters in Santa Cruz de Tenerife. The satellite information is stored in a massive system at the IARC. This system is complemented by a Linux Server with full SAF (Satellite Application Facilities) Nowcasting to obtain derived products from the SEVIRI/MSG information.

Most of this information is treated and visualized with the McIDAS (Man computer Interactive Data Access System) software Developed by the Space Science and Engineering Center (SSEC) of the Wisconsin-Madison University. McIDAS integrates meteorological data, satellite information and the corresponding geographical references, fitting the different data formats. Automatized computation of isentropic back-trajectories for different end-points and levels are performed on a routine basis using ECMWG analysis every 6 hours and predictions every 12 hours up to 72h ahead.

A full set of supporting meteorological and satellite products are real time disseminated through an internal web-based data base.

Concerning research, important progresses have been made in the tropopause and upper troposphere-lower stratosphere (UTLS) characterization using thermodynamic, dynamical and chemical criteria. Another outstanding research lines are about the subtropical jet (STJ) characterization and bout the stratosphere-troposphere exchange processes associated to the STJ and cut-off low dynamics.


Mr. Carlos L. Marrero-de la Santa Cruz

Mr. JuanJo de Bustos

Dr. Celia Milford

Ms. Cristina Martín

Ms. Sonia González

Dr. Emilio Cuevas-Agulló

Mr. Juan José Rodriguez Franco

Collaborations with other Research Centres and Organizations

Consejería de Medio Ambiente y Ordenación Territorial del Gobierno de Canarias

Universidad de La Laguna

Universidad de Huelva

Barcelona Supercomputing Centre

Air Resources Laboratory – NOAA


González-Cairós, S., León-Hernández, C., Miranda-Valladares, G., Marrero, C. and Stein, A.: Paralelización de la obtención de datos de entrada del modelo de concentraciones de HYSPLIT. Serie de Notas Técnicas Digitales del Centro de Investigación Atmosférica de Izaña. Nota Técnica Digital nº2. Editor: Agencia Estatal de Meteorología. Ministerio de Medio Ambiente, y Medio Rural y Marino. NIPO: 784-09-011-7 (Download pdf)

González-Cairós, S., León-Hernández, C., and Miranda-Valladares, G.: Input data reading optimization of the HYSPLIT concentration model (parallel version) using MPI, Computer Engineering Degree Thesis, University of La Laguna, 2009.

Jorba, O., Marrero, C., Cuevas, E., and Baldasano, J.: Impact of the extratropical storm Delta over the Canary Islands on 28-30 November 2005: severe windstorm event, European Geosciences Union General Assembly 2007. Vienna, Austria, 15-20 April, 2007.

Jorba, O., Marrero, C., Cuevas, E., and Baldasano, J.: High resolution modelling results of the wind flow over Canary Islands during the meteorological situation of the extratropical storm Delta (28-30 November 2005), Advances in Science and Research, 2, 81–87, 2008.

Marrero, C., Jorba, O., Cuevas, E., and Baldasano, J.: Sensitivity Study with a Limited Area Model: Extratropical Storm Delta over the Canary Islands, Poster Programme – AW5 Atmospheric Hazards, EMS2007-A-00584, 4, 2007a. (Download pdf)

Marrero, C., Jorba, O., Cuevas, E., and Baldasano, J.: Extreme Wind Event over The Canary Islands Related to the Extratropical Storm Delta: Sensitivity Study with a Limited Area Model, XXIV International Union of Geodesy and Geophysics General Assembly 2007. Perugia, Italy, 2-13 July, 2007b. (Download pdf)

Marrero, C., Milford, C., Martin, C., Bustos, J. J., and Querol, X.: A system for forecasting air pollution episode potential in the Canary Islands, Poster at: 7th Annual Meeting of the European Meteorological Society, El Escorial, Madrid, Spain, 1-5 October 2007, 2007c.

Marrero, C., Jorba, O., Cuevas, E., and Baldasano, J. M.: Sensitivity study of surface wind flow of a limited area model simulating the extratropical storm Delta affecting the Canary Islands, Advances in Science and Research, 2, 151–157, 2008. (Download pdf)

Milford, C., Marrero, C., Martin, C., Bustos, J. J., and Querol, X.: Forecasting the air pollution episode potential in the Canary Islands, Advances in Science and Research, 2, 21–26, 2008. (Download pdf)

Milford, C., Marrero, C., Martin, C., Rodríguez, S., Querol, X., and E., C.: Air Quality Assessment in Santa Cruz de Tenerife (Canary Islands) 2000-2007, Proceedings of: 7th International Conference on Air Quality – Science and Application, Istanbul, 24-27 March 2009, 2009.