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Improving Air Quality Monitoring in Chile by Integrating with Copernicus

Point of contact
Mr Mikko Strahlendorff
00560 Helsinki
Phone: +358503593795

The aim of this action is to develop the air quality monitoring in Chile. Improving the information services to the public requires better control of measurements and local air quality modelling. FMI will make an end-to-end analysis and prepare an action plan.

Chile has often extremely difficult air quality with adverse health consequences. Environmental issues have not been taken as a priority in general, but with an improved economy attention is now more serious. A long-term economic success cannot be coupled with news about pollution incidents sending people to hospitals or on the streets to protest. In 2017, FMI has, with other partners, been advising Chile for a reference laboratory to raise the quality of air, water and land sampling. Chile has however not been able to decide on its formation yet. It seems that a wider awareness of the population, economy and politics would help a great deal. The Copernicus program is in a wonderful position to help in this respect. Making downstream applications and visualization for media and the public can build on an already rich data pool. FMI will concentrate on the air quality case, while in general promoting an improvement to all environmental monitoring.

Copernicus core services and the current air quality network are not enough to evade emergencies like the incident in Quintero-Puchuncaví. Station and satellite observations and modelling need to be coupled in a higher resolution and more near real time to be able to alert people and business quickly enough. Alerts also need a dissemination solution that reaches the affected areas effectively.

FMI has an excellent record in Finland and internationally both in air quality monitoring, modelling and building effective alert systems. FMI runs a national air quality website combining station observations and model output. An innovative alert system was developed and used for heavy road transports to warn about road icing. It has several decades of experience in consulting international projects for weather and air quality. In November 2018 FMI organized AtmosHack together with the Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service with excellent participation and good results.

In this action, FMI will analyse how processes and tools used in Finland could be implemented in Chile. This will require finding partners in Chile and co-designing a solution with them. EuroChile is a very valuable partner with excellent connections already in the reference laboratory preparation. FMI will build on this partnership and look in this case together for new partners in Europe and Chile for running labs, stations and local modelling. These could be small and medium size enterprises active in environmental consulting or new start-ups from academia. Other valuable partners to look for are the mobile communication networks providers as they could send SMS messages to all phones in a certain area for effective alerts.

Awareness is an important part of this action and to get more attention a hackathon event will be organized just before the bad air quality season begins. It will be arranged together with all Chilean Copernicus relays. It could be called AtmosHack Chile, but the name needs to be agreed with the local partners. As it should get strong media attention, the event would benefit from at least one telecom partner to leverage marketing. The Copernicus program would in return benefit from access and metadata of Chilean atmospheric composition measurements. As part of the analysis of the monitoring system, actions for a near real time data exchange will be investigated involving the Copernicus Atmosphere Service. FMI will relate this system also with European research infrastructures, in which it is active: Integrated Carbon Observing System ICOS and Aerosol, Clouds and Trace gases research infrastructure networks ACTRIS.

Outputs and Results

  • AtmosHack Chile for awareness and finding partners
  • New partnerships in Chile
  • Analysis report for air quality monitoring system
  • In-situ observation exchange to Copernicus services