Modelling air quality in street canyons: A review

Sotiris Vardoulakis, Bernard E.A. Fisher, Koulis Pericleous, Norbert Gonzalez-Flesca

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

938 Citations (Scopus)


High pollution levels have been often observed in urban street canyons due to the increased traffic emissions and reduced natural ventilation. Microscale dispersion models with different levels of complexity may be used to assess urban air quality and support decision-making for pollution control strategies and traffic planning. Mathematical models calculate pollutant concentrations by solving either analytically a simplified set of parametric equations or numerically a set of differential equations that describe in detail wind flow and pollutant dispersion. Street canyon models, which might also include simplified photochemistry and particle deposition-resuspension algorithms, are often nested within larger-scale urban dispersion codes. Reduced-scale physical models in wind tunnels may also be used for investigating atmospheric processes within urban canyons and validating mathematical models. A range of monitoring techniques is used to measure pollutant concentrations in urban streets. Point measurement methods (continuous monitoring, passive and active pre-concentration sampling, grab sampling) are available for gaseous pollutants. A number of sampling techniques (mainly based on filtration and impaction) can be used to obtain mass concentration, size distribution and chemical composition of particles. A combination of different sampling/monitoring techniques is often adopted in experimental studies. Relatively simple mathematical models have usually been used in association with field measurements to obtain and interpret time series of pollutant concentrations at a limited number of receptor locations in street canyons. On the other hand, advanced numerical codes have often been applied in combination with wind tunnel and/or field data to simulate small-scale dispersion within the urban canopy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)155-182
Number of pages28
JournalAtmospheric Environment
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2003
Externally publishedYes


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