The overall objective of the PAPILA project (Prediction of Air Pollution in Latin America and the Caribbean) is to establish a sustained network of partners with complementary expertise that develop and implement an analysis and forecast system for air quality with downscaling capability for Latin America and the Caribbean region (LAC region), and to assess the impact of air pollution (background and peaks) on health and on the economy. This system will help decision-makers improve air quality and public health, and avoid the occurrence of acute air pollution episodes, particularly in urban areas.

Participants: José Agustín García, Arón Jazcilevich, Michel Grutter, Luis Gerardo Ruiz Suárez, Wolfgang Stremme, María del Carmen Calderón, Benjamín Martínez, Arturo Quintanar, Graciela Binimelis de Raga

The project combines an ensemble of state-of-the-art models, high-resolution emission inventories, space observations and surface measurements to provide near real time forecasts and analysis of regional air pollution in the LAC region. To reach this objective, the project will bring together an interdisciplinary team of scientists from Europe, Latin America (Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Mexico, Venezuela) and the Caribbean (Puerto Rico), and foster synergies between the groups involved in research and service activities. The project will co-develop with users and other stakeholders several products and services of importance for the LAC region. An important objective of the project is to make use of complementary competence to develop innovative ideas, to established sustained partnerships between research groups, to transfer information to the public, to develop educational activities and to create a dialogue with interested stakeholders. Societal impacts, specifically on human health, on crop production, on ecosystems, on the mountain snow cover and on the hydrological cycle as well as the economic benefits of mitigation policies will be assessed. Finally, the planned activities will provide the basis for sustained capacity building actions.


Specific Objectives: The Air Quality Analysis and Forecast System (Figure 1) that will be produced at the completion of the Papila Project will include: (a) a real-time state-of-the-art multi-model quasi-operational air quality prediction system that will forecast the four dimensional distribution of air pollutants (reactive species and particulate matter) and provide related health indices, (b) a real-time (quasi-operational) chemical data system that collects and processes observations of air pollutants; (c) a state-of-the-art data assimilation system that will provide best estimates of the atmospheric chemical state via integration of Earth observations (specifically space observations) in chemistry transport model predictions; (d) an emission inventory based on direct “bottom-up” estimates of anthropogenic sources and on “top-down” inverse modelling methodology (following the efforts undertaken by Andrade et al., 2016), (e) dissemination platforms that will release daily “chemical weather” forecasts with quantified uncertainties, and (f) exchanges and transfer of results to national and international agencies. We propose to use (a) an ensemble of air quality prediction models that account for the complex coupling between dynamical, physical and chemical processes in the atmosphere, (b) different data assimilation schemes that optimize the model forecasts, and (c) a comprehensive validation process based on a statistical comparison of the forecasts with surface measurements of chemical species (Dennis et al., 2010). Particular problems of great interest in the Latin American region are the strong anthropogenic emissions of primary pollutants in megacities (hotspots), emissions in the Amazon of biogenic and pyrogenic species (Guenther et al., 2006), the transport of chemical species in the complex topography of the Andes, and the deposition of black carbon on the cryosphere of the high mountains (Molina et al., 2015).

Table providing the content of the joint work during exchanges from the “sending organization” to the “seconded” organization.

The modelling and analysis system to be developed by the Papila Project will be used:

  • To provide daily deterministic and probabilistic air quality predictions and related air quality health indices in Latin America and the Caribbean region (LAC region) with spatial resolutions that will be increased in densely populated areas and other hotspots (grid nesting, statistical downscaling, kriging).
  • To determine and release forecasts of regional distributions of primary chemical species (NOx, CO, VOCs, SO2, particle matter (PM) including dust and black carbon), of secondary species (ozone, sulphate, secondary organic aerosols, etc.) and health indices.
  • To study the expected changes in future air quality in response of various forcings such as changes in the emissions due to urbanization and industrialization, and climate change.
  • To estimate the immediate impacts (e.g., acute human health effects, crop damage) and long-term effects (e.g., chronic health impacts, deposition on the biosphere, climate impacts) of air pollution
  • To support the design of air pollution mitigation strategies.
  • To support educational activities related to air pollution and climate change.
  • To develop a sustained capacity building effort and take the opportunity of mutual exchanges to train students and junior scientists from LAC and European countries

European and Latin American research and service institutions will team up through the proposed RISE project, and use their complementary expertise to create synergies on questions related to model development and evaluation, analysis of observational data, and air quality forecasts. This cooperation will be greatly facilitated by the deployment of secondments in Europe and Latin America, by technical workshops and by the participation of the partners in educational activities. The training of early-career scientists and stakeholders from the LAC region will be a key aspect of the Papila project. It will enable them, through their visits in European Laboratories, to become familiar with existing forecast systems and to contribute to their development. The goal is to improve their local and regional air quality modelling capabilities as well as their operational air quality forecasts in their respective Latin American countries. It is also to transfer knowledge, methodologies and tools, and to provide to the staff involved the opportunity to improve skills and career opportunities.