NATIONAL OBSERVATORY OF ATHENS

Challenges, necessity and state-of-the-art

Significant effort has been recently devoted to understanding atmospheric composition change due to human activities in the East Mediterranean, supporting the role of the basin as the “pressure-cooker” of transported air pollution. Interaction of atmospheric constituents with radiation is also a major controller for the climate at regional scales. At the local to urban scales, pressing environmental problems faced e.g. in metropolitan areas, continue to baffle the scientific community as well as the local authorities, despite the measures taken to reduce the levels of hazardous pollutants. The outdoor conditions have a pronounced impact on the indoor climate taking into account the type of indoor space use and activities. As an additional, but still underappreciated factor of environmental pollution, “noise” has received significant attention during the past decade. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), air pollution is now officially a carcinogen, while traffic noise is also considered amongst the most relevant environmental burden on health.

Main research activities

  • Chemical analyses and monitoring of gaseous and particulate air pollutants, with emphasis on hazardous for public health chemical compounds.
  • Monitoring and study of the optical, physical and chemical characteristics of aerosols, using in-situ and both active and passive remote sensing techniques.
  • Monitoring of the indoor environmental conditions in buildings of different use.
  • Monitoring and reporting of noise, following the Environmental Noise Directive 2002/49/EC.
  • Regional chemical transport modelling (CTM) with MM5-CAMx, and recently with the online-coupled COSMO-ART model, for the study of photochemical pollution and feedback processes of gases and aerosols with meteorology.
  • Research on the factors affecting solar radiation (specific focus on UV), spatial and temporal characteristics, energy applications, instrumentation development and characterisation.
  • Satellite based observations of environmental parameters.

 

Operational activities and services

  • Operation of the Atmospheric Chemistry Laboratory for the implementation of chemical analyses and the investigation of health related atmospheric components.
  • Operation of a Mobile Air Quality Monitoring Station for air pollutants measurement services.
  • Operation of infrastructure for the provision of services on environmental noise monitoring.
  • Provision of four (4) day forecast for the Ultraviolet Index over Greece.