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AEROTOX – The application of WRF-Chem for Dust Prediction

Authors: Dr Ing. Joseph A. Zammit,
  • Institute: Institute of Engineering and Transport
  • Symposium: Emerging Technology and Creative Innovation
  • Day: 1 , Session: 3 , Location: Auditorium
  • Session Type: Medium 15 min (Presentation of ongoing research developments and findings) , Start: 14:00 , End: 14:20


Air pollution from particulate matter is a global health problem. Dust particles are considered a source of natural pollutants. Most of the mineral dust particle emission is from the Sahara desert which accounts for 55% of the total emitted dust particles. When dust from the Sahara desert reaches the Maltese islands this results in atmospheric ‘haze’ which causes problems for people with respiratory conditions, low visibility and lower output from PV panels. Dust emissions from this region have been only studied using numerical models with little input from actual observations.

The AEROTOX project, financed by the Malta Council for Science and Technology, for and on behalf of the Foundation for Science and Technology, through the Space Research Fund (Grant Agreement No SRF‐2019‐1S2), focused on creating a set of predictive tools, based on innovative forecasting algorithms, that automatically predict the dust plumes from the Saharan Desert and subsequently visualise these forecasts on the project’s online platform for the end‐user in the public domain. The project innovatively integrates real-time data from the Sentinel 5p satellite to existing modelling software. The fundamental platform used for numerical modelling is Weather Research and Forecast (WRF). A variant of this numerical model, WRF-Chem, is able to integrate particulate matter with standard weather models. This leads to the forecast of the trajectory of particulate matter through the atmosphere. The presentation will give an update on the status of the project and the modelling techniques developed to date.