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The Institute for the Environment (IENV) at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST) and the Hong Kong SAR Environmental Protection Department (HKEPD) recently announced collaborative efforts scale to study and develop science-based regional ozone and photochemical smog control strategies. .

The project will be led by the HKEPD and carried out by atmospheric research teams from HKUST, the Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK), the City University of Hong Kong (CityU) and the Polytechnic University of Hong Kong ( PolyU). This collaborative research effort also involves many international experts and atmospheric research teams, including those in Guangdong and Macao.

By combining the use of multidisciplinary expertise with state-of-the-art technology, the objective is to improve the quantitative understanding of the different emission sources that contribute to the formation of ozone and smog in the atmosphere, their pathways transportation systems and their transformation processes en route over Hong Kong and the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macau (GBA) Greater Bay Area.

Over the past two decades, emission reduction efforts by the governments of Hong Kong, Macao and Guangdong have resulted in significant reductions in ambient concentrations of sulfur dioxide (SO2), nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and particulate matter (PM) levels.

However, the average ozone concentration remains high and continues to increase. This issue has come to the fore recently, with the Air Quality Health Index (AQHI) rising to “very high” or “serious” across the city almost daily, and ozone being the pollutant contributing to most of the air. increase in lifespan. term health risks reported by the CAS.

Accurate measurement of these pollutants requires the use of advanced (research-grade) instrumentation, supported by experienced researchers following carefully designed sampling and analysis protocols.

Therefore, the first part of the research effort is the continuous monitoring of the atmospheric composition of reactive organic precursors. This includes the operation of advanced continuous mass spectrometry instruments by research teams led by HKUST, CityU, CUHK and PolyU at multiple locations (urban, rural, bottom and atop Tai Mo Shan) to fully characterize the composition detail of the ambient atmosphere around Hong Kong.

Atmospheric transport is three-dimensional. Besides the quantification of atmospheric composition on the ground, a good understanding of atmospheric transport in the surface boundary layer above ground is also very important. Therefore, the second part of the research effort is the operation of HKUST-led LIDARs to continuously measure vertical variations of wind, ozone and particulate matter (PM) at several locations in Hong Kong.

Ground and LIDAR measurements can provide continuous information at specific points, but spatial coverage remains limited. Therefore, the third part of the research effort is to conduct much more comprehensive measurements of air, sea and land during episodic events.

These include advanced real-time sensor-based air monitoring and the collection of multiple air samples using government flight service helicopters led by HKUST researchers, at aboard seagoing vessels led by another HKUST researcher, and through enhanced 80-point simultaneous coordinated grid sampling conducted in Hong Kong, Macau, and Guangdong.

Improved sampling implies a sharp increase in the need for accurate VOC analyses, not only for the current research effort in Hong Kong, but also to understand and qualify the growing ozone problem in the GBA in the future. . Therefore, the fourth part of the research effort is the support of HKEPD and the Innovation Technology Commission (ITC) for the establishment of a Gold Standard VOC laboratory in Hong Kong led by professors from HKUST. This laboratory is intended to serve as a reference laboratory to help improve the region’s capacity for VOC measurements and analyses.

The observational data generated by the routine and episodic measurements should be analyzed by the initial research teams, as well as the source allocation team led by a team from South China University of Technology, Guangzhou, to help identify the dominant sources contributing to the release of the reactive precursors.

Meanwhile, the observations will also be used by a HKUST modeling team to refine and validate the air quality model for use in ozone and smog studies over Hong Kong and the GBA. Subsequently, informed by source allocation studies, the modeling team will also perform scenario analyzes to assess the performance of different emission control strategies in reducing ozone pollution in Hong Kong and the GBA.

The progress of this collaborative research is also closely monitored by a scientific steering committee made up of 8 members, including the academician, Professor Jiming HAO (Tsinghua), academician. Teacher. Yuanhang ZHANG (PKU), Prof. Zifa WANG (Institute of Atmospheric Physics), Prof. XinMing WANG (Guangzhou Institute of Geochemistry), Prof. Junyu ZHENG (Jinan University), Prof. Yongbo ZHANG (Guangdong Provincial Academy of Environmental Sciences), Pr Alexis LAU (HKUST) and Pr Tao WANG (PolyU).

The Steering Committee meets at least once a year to review key findings and recommend updates and potential improvements in research methodologies, ensuring that the latest science is considered and incorporated into this. collaborative research effort.

In addition to science, Professor Alexis Lau asked young researchers to seize the golden opportunity to participate in this type of large multidisciplinary mission-oriented research project.