Dispersion Models to Forecast Traffic-related Emissions in Urban Areas

  • Davide Scannapieco University of Salerno Sanitary Environmental Engineering Division (SEED) Department of Civil Engineering
  • Vincenzo Naddeo University of Salerno Sanitary Environmental Engineering Division (SEED) Department of Civil Engineering
  • Vincenzo Belgiorno Università di Salerno Sanitary Environmental Engineering Division (SEED) Dipartimento di Ingegneria Civile
Keywords: emissions, traffic, models


Down the centuries, a direct link had been developed between increase in mobility and increase in wealth. On the other hand, air emission of greenhouse gases (GHG) due to vehicles equipped with internal combustion engines can be regarded as a negative pressure over the environment. In the coming decades, road transport is likely to remain a significant contributor to air pollution in cities. Many urban trips cover distances of less than 6 km. Since the effectiveness of catalytic converters in the initial minutes of engine operation is small, the average emission per distance driven is very high in urban areas. Also, poorly maintained vehicles that lack exhaust aftertreatment systems are responsible for a major part of pollutant emissions. Therefore in urban areas, where higher concentrations of vehicles can be easily found, air pollution represents a critical issue, being it related with both environment and human health protection: in truth, research in recent decades consistently indicates the adverse effects of outdoor air pollution on human health, and the evidence points to air pollution stemming from transport as an important contributor to these effects. Several institutions (EEA, USEPA, etc.) focused their interest in dispersion models because of their potential effectiveness to forecast atmospheric pollution. Furthermore, air micropollutants such as Polycyclic Aromatic Compounds (PAH) and Metallic Trace Elements (MTE) are traffic-related and although very low concentrations their dispersion is a serious issue. However, dispersion models are usefully implemented to better manage this estimation problem. Nonetheless, policy makers and land managers have to deal with model selection, taking into account that several dispersion models are available, each one of them focused on specific goals (e.g., wind transport of pollutants, land morphology implementation, evaluation of micropollutants transport, etc.); a further aspect to be considered is the model scale: not every model can be usefully implemented in all conditions, e.g. for a careful simulation of the transport of pollutants in a range of 50 – 500 m, it is recommended to select Lagrangian or Eulerian tridimensional models, instead of Gaussian models, which may be preferable to simulate dispersion over longer distances. In addition, emission factors have to be evaluated as well, considering that nowadays vehicles release pollutants in the environment depending on both their engine and technological innovation level. Dispersion models are commonly used in order to define pressures on the environment, although phenomenon complexity and numerous interactions require continuous innovation. The paper aims to explain dispersion models implementation and to introduce the most used models available for both the transport sector and the GHG emissions in order to help land managers to better assess air quality thanks to a deeper comprehension of pollutants dispersion.


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Author Biographies

Davide Scannapieco, University of Salerno Sanitary Environmental Engineering Division (SEED) Department of Civil Engineering

Ph.D. student at Department of Civil Engineering, University of Salerno. He worked as Visiting Researcher at Cranfield University (UK), Centre for Water Science, writing his M.Sc. thesis. His major research interests are in the field of wastewater treatment, Membrane BioReactors, environmental impact assessment and pollution-related environmental issues. In his Ph.D. thesis membrane fouling is investigated with the aim of developing a new hybrid system to control such phenomenon.

Vincenzo Naddeo, University of Salerno Sanitary Environmental Engineering Division (SEED) Department of Civil Engineering

Assistant professor in Environmental Engineering at the University of Salerno. His research interests are in the fields of environmental impact assessment, advanced oxidation processes. He is expert of the European Union in the seventh Framework Programme for Research. He is very active in the scientific international community of environmental engineers. He published almost a hundred refereed publications in international journals, congress proceedings and books; he owns 4 patents on water and wastewater treatments by sonolysis.

Vincenzo Belgiorno, Università di Salerno Sanitary Environmental Engineering Division (SEED) Dipartimento di Ingegneria Civile

Full professor in Environmental Engineering and responsible of SEED (Sanitary Environmental Engineering Division) at the University of Salerno. His main research interests are in the fields of waste and wastewater management, environmental impact assessment. He is author of more than 150 publications and coordinated or took part in several international joint research projects. He is visiting professor at Cranfield University (UK), Associate Editor of Desalination and Water Treatment, member of many international boards or committees of journals and conferences.


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How to Cite
Scannapieco, D., Naddeo, V., & Belgiorno, V. (2011). Dispersion Models to Forecast Traffic-related Emissions in Urban Areas. TeMA - Journal of Land Use, Mobility and Environment, 4(3). https://doi.org/10.6092/1970-9870/492