29 Jun 2023
 | 29 Jun 2023
Status: this preprint is open for discussion.

Sensitivity of air quality indicators to emission inventories (EDGAR, EMEP, CAMS-REG) in Europe through FAIRMODE benchmarking methodology

Alexander de Meij, Cornelis Cuvelier, Philippe Thunis, Enrico Pisoni, and Bertrand Bessagnet

Abstract. This study evaluates the sensitivity of four different emission inventories (EDGAR 5.0, EMEPG, CAMS version 2.2.1 and CAMS version 4.2 + condensables) on calculated air quality indices using the EMEP chemistry transport model. Emissions are reduced by 25 % and 50 % for different air pollutants for six cities and two regions in Europe to study the impact on particulate matter (PM) ozone (O3) formation. We performed the simulations for the year 2015 over Europe.

Emission at each location for all precursors are quite consistent for EMEP and CAMS inventories (as i.e. all these inventories share the same country total emissions), while EDGAR (being developed using a completely independent approach) generally show different urban scale emissions. Similar emission totals can however hide large variations in sectorial allocation. Our results stress the importance of the sectorial repartition of the emissions, given their different vertical distribution. In terms of non-linear behavior, the relationship between emission reduction and PM10 concentration change shows the largest non-linearity for NOx and in a lesser extend for NH3 whereas it remains mostly linear for the other precursors (VOC, SOx and PPM).

For O3, NOx emission reductions are the most efficient, likely because of the urban focus of this work and the abundance of NOx emission in this type of areas. In terms of non-linear behaviour, the relationship between emission reduction and O3 concentration change shows the largest non-linearity for NOx (concentration increase) and a quasi linear behaviour for VOC (concentration decrease). Potencies and potentials can show differences that are as large between inventories (EMEPC2 vs EMEPG) than between inventory versions (EMEPC2 vs. EMEPC42C). Precursor emission ratios (e.g. VOC/NOx for ozone or NOx/NH3 for PM10) show important differences among emission inventories. This emphasizes the importance of the accuracy of emission estimates since these differences can lead to changes of chemical regimes, directly affecting the responses of O3 or PM10 concentrations to emission reductions.

It is also important to understand that the choice of the indicator (for example mean or P95 values) can lead to different outcomes. It is therefore important to assess the variability of the results around the choice of the indicator to avoid misleading interpretations of the results.

This work takes part of the Forum for Air Quality Modelling (FAIRMODE), that provides air quality modellers a permanent forum to address air quality modelling issues (

Alexander de Meij et al.

Status: open (extended)

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse
  • RC1: 'Comment on egusphere-2023-1168', Anonymous Referee #1, 24 Jul 2023 reply

Alexander de Meij et al.

Alexander de Meij et al.


Total article views: 223 (including HTML, PDF, and XML)
HTML PDF XML Total Supplement BibTeX EndNote
158 56 9 223 22 5 5
  • HTML: 158
  • PDF: 56
  • XML: 9
  • Total: 223
  • Supplement: 22
  • BibTeX: 5
  • EndNote: 5
Views and downloads (calculated since 29 Jun 2023)
Cumulative views and downloads (calculated since 29 Jun 2023)

Viewed (geographical distribution)

Total article views: 225 (including HTML, PDF, and XML) Thereof 225 with geography defined and 0 with unknown origin.
Country # Views %
  • 1
Latest update: 30 Sep 2023
Short summary
In our study the robustness of the model responses to emission reductions in EU is assessed when the emission data are changed. Our findings are particularly important to better understand the uncertainties associated to the emission inventories and how these uncertainties impact the level of accuracy of the resulting air quality modelling, which is a key model output for designing air quality plans. Also crucial is the choice of indicator to avoid misleading interpretations of the results.