Research 211:State of Play of Air Science Research in Ireland: Discussion Document

Authors: Aoife Donnelly, Bruce Misstear, Brian Broderick and Francesco Pilla

Summary: The purpose of this discussion document is to help identify knowledge gaps and priorities for air science research in Ireland.

Research 211 thumbnail

Published: 2017

ISBN: 978-1-84095-707-5

Pages: 40

Filesize: 1,228 KB

Format: pdf


Effective decision making relies on the communication of relevant evidence-based monitoring, research and analysis. Within the EPAs air pollution research programme there is a wealth of information which has arisen from the analyses of air quality, environmental, health and policy data. This report identifies a way forward to enhance engagement with stakeholders with an interest in such information including the EPA and other policy makers at a national level. There is scope to further improve the impact and applicability of historical, ongoing and future research activities. The focus of this report is on priority pollutants in relation to local air quality outlined in the CAFÉ Directive, and short-life climate drivers and contributory species.

Identifying Pressures

Past and ongoing Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) research activities related to air quality in Ireland have been analysed through a combination of structured interviews, meetings and analysis of review documents. Whilst there is a strong body of research now available, there is scope for improving the effectiveness of research further, providing support for adaptation planning and greater exploitation of synergies between Irish, European and international work. Through this, stronger linkages can be established between environmental research programmes in the humanities and the natural sciences.

Informing Policy

There is an important role for government/state actors in supporting air science research that is policy focussed. In particular, such research can be important in supporting a clean air strategy. Bringing the relevant state actors and academics together will help ensure research is policy focused. Facilitating researchers to become members of steering committees on other relevant research projects could help develop research capacity and inform researchers of government and policy research needs.

Developing Solutions

The report recommends that bringing the relevant state and academic actors together in a co-ordinated fashion will optimise policy focussed research. In this regard, it is recommended that sub-themes within the air science field be established to maximise synergistic research impacts. Suggested sub-themes are: (1) air quality modelling (to include the establishment of a modelling advisory committee); (2) air quality monitoring and emerging techniques, emissions and measurements; (3) health and environmental effects of air pollution and indoor air pollution; and (4) air pollution and climate change. Various research directions are suggested in the report and, furthermore, an open research call from the EPA is recommended as a means to foster innovation and a more interdisciplinary approach within the research community. Capacity development will be required to achieve maximum benefit from research on national and international levels and, moreover, to achieve the aims and objectives set out in the EPA’s research strategy. Central to this will be the development and maintenance of a knowledge base and the communication of research outputs in a manner that facilitates follow-on work.