Air Quality Forecasting - Integrated Assessment Model

Example AQUIReS+ forecast for London
An example of an AQUIReS+ forecast for London

AQUIReS+ is a suite of air quality forecasting tools developed by Aeris Europe that together provide a modular integrated assessment model (IAM). Development of AQUIReS+ started in 1999 and continues today as a process of refinement and enhancement, taking advantage of new data sources and increases in computer processing power.

Each module provides a distinct and independent level of functionality that can be customised to meet project and client needs. AQUIReS+ is able to take advantage of a range of data sources in order to build emissions profiles at country and grid level and relate those emissions to concentrations at individual measuring station level. A powerful feature of AQUIReS+ is the ability to account for traffic, environmental and topographical effects at each measuring station across Europe by analysing the historicity of specific measuring stations and their proximity to key air quality influences. Limited only by the emissions data, AQUIReS+ can forecast to any point in the future (or past) from a single monitoring station to the whole EU.

AQUIReS+ is a fully modular system that can operate in a number of different modes to use the techniques most relevant to a given task or specification.

AQUIReS+ Modules

AQUIReS+ - Data

This "Data" module provides import functionality and direct interfaces to the many exogenous data sources that are required for AQUIReS+ to perform all of its functions. The form of these data sources includes but is not limited to:

  • Text files (csv, tsv, etc.)
  • Databases (PostgreSQL , Access, etc.)
  • Geographical data (Vector and Raster data)
  • Climate data (CDO, netCDF)
  • Algorithmic Data (Source-Receptor functions, health impacts, etc.)

The ability to add to these data sources independent of the functional aspects of the system enable rapid prototyping and development.

AQUIReS+ - Core

The "Core" module choreographs the functions of the other modules, enabling and disabling whole modules or specific component functions as required. It also oversees the preparation of the outputs of each module for input to the next.


The "NOX" module is the primary NOX IAM component of the system. This module handles functions that relate NOX emissions to NO2 concentrations and generates air quality predictions down to specific monitoring station resolution. With the current interest in transport emissions this module has been used to ascertain the contribution of individual vehicle fleet components and their corresponding effect on air quality.

AQUIReS+ - Particulates

"AQUIReS Particulates" is the main PM component of the system, it handles both primary PM concentrations and secondary, long-range contributions. It is able to predict PM2.5 and PM10 concentrations at annual and daily exceedance intervals.

AQUIReS+ - Ozone

The "Ozone" module is the ozone IAM component of the system. This module handles functions that relate NOX and VOC emissions to ozone concentrations and generates air quality predictions down to specific monitoring station resolution. The module can model both SOMO35 and daily exceedances for health and legislation comparisons. Importantly the module can model increases in ozone that reductions in NOX can induce.

AQUIReS+ - Scenario

The "Scenario" module introduces scenario specific emissions to the system. Fully automated it is able to process a series of scenarios with entirely different emissions profiles covering any of the sectoral emission defined in the standard nomenclature.

AQUIReS+ - Transport

The "Transport" module is an intrinsic component of the AQUIReS+ integrated assessment capability. There are a number of transport emission sources;

  • Shipping: at sea, in coastal waters and inland waterways
  • Aircraft: during airport operations and in flight
  • Road transport: in urban environments and on major interconnecting roads
  • Non-road transport: rail and other transport sources

The module is fully compatible with EEA and EU Commission methodologies and can can utilise emissions data from multiple sources, including COPERT, GAINS, TSAP, EMEP and STEAM. A number of road transport fleet datasets are integrated into the module, including TREMOVE and TSAP fleets. This module enables rapid assessment of new and emerging emission legislation such as low sulphur bunker fuels whilst incorporating new technologies such as electric cars. A valuable feature of the model is the ability to emulate the effect of mitigation strategies, such as vehicle scrappage schemes. The module also compensates for increased emissions in non-transport areas that are induced as a direct result of tranport changes, for example the increase in emissions from the power generation sector (taking into account country specific power generation technology mixes) as electric vehicle usage increases. If required, this module can be replaced with exogenous data provided from client data sets, in which case the "Data" module is used.

AQUIReS+ - Health

The "Health" module incorporates two separate components, the first is a population exposure model that features a series of different exposure methodologies the primary purpose of which is to determine the portion of an urban population exposed to a given concentration of a specific atmospheric component. The second is as an advanced morbidity and mortality effects model that is able to relate the concentration of a given pollutant to specific health effects.

AQUIReS+ - Environment

This module models the impact on ecosystems in the EU of changes in air quality. Featuring the ability to model the deposition of nitrogen (eutrophication), and sulphur (acidification) of soils in relate these to the critical loads of specific ecosystems provides valuable insights into the effect of emission abatement policies on ecosystem services, biodiversity and the impact on protected areas e.g. the Natura 2000 network of protected areas.

AQUIReS+ - Costs

The "Costs" module enables cost-benefit analysis of emission reductions in Europe. This module is fully compatible with IIASA and EU Commission methodologies and is regularly updated with RAINS/GAINS data and other exogenous sources. In addition to the standard IIASA - RAINS/GAINS scenarios, it is possible to analyse scenarios specified by the client.

This module is particularly useful in cost-benefit analysis as it includes:

  • Human health impacts by pollutant
  • Environmental impacts by pollutant
  • Abatement technology costs by industry sector and pollutant

The cost-benefit analysis has multiple modifiable components to allow for new research and regional differences, for example:

  • The effect of pre-cursor emissions on health impacts
  • The relative costs of short lived climate forcers
  • The demographics and topology of a geographic region
  • Industrial and environmental influences in each geographic region

AQUIReS+ - Export

This module allows interactive interrogation of the results of each AQUIReS+ modelled scenario and exports the data in various useful formats, for example CSV, Vector and netCDF formats. The data is also directly accessible by common GIS software. This gives great flexibility in the presentation of the modelled data to help present the results in the most intuitive and accessible manner possible.