Air pollution is recognized today as a major health risk. Exposure to air pollution, both ambient and household, increases a person’s risk of contracting a disease, such as atherosclerosis, stroke, chronic bronchitis, diabetes or asthma. Cities are considered as hot spots and urban populations are particularly exposed. There is, therefore, an urgent need to prepare cities to improve air quality and to adapt to climate change, incorporating this knowledge into urban planning and future design. But, air pollution is not just a health risk but also a drag on development. By causing illness and premature death, air pollution reduces the quality of life. By causing a loss of productive labor, it also reduces incomes in these countries.
Air pollution and climate change are often treated as if they were two separate problems, when they actually represent the same menace. While the former has the most acute impact on human health, and causes economic harm to buildings, vegetation and activities (e.g. tourism), the latter affects lives, property and the natural world in a less direct way, through weather disasters, windstorms, floods, droughts and rising sea levels. In other words, air pollution and carbon management (climate change) are no longer to be addressed as separate and rather technical policy topics, but to be regarded as part of wider concerns of city inhabitants about their quality of life and futures.
The Group on Atmospheric Emissions, Modeling and Climate Change (GEMAC) has been carrying on, for more than three decades, research in the field of the air quality and climate change, addressing the challenges raised above. GEMAC have been doing relevant investigation on emissions, meteorology and air quality modeling and measurement (in ambient and in wind tunnel laboratory) in urban areas to evaluate climate change, health, social and economic impacts and benefits, as well as developing decision support information systems to characterize urban mobility. GEMAC has also given scientific and technical support to national and regional governmental authorities and decision makers in the domain of air quality improvement in urban areas, including the assessment of emission reduction strategies, urban planning alternatives and traffic management.
Examples of the results will be presented.
Carlos Borrego is Emeritus Full Professor of Environmental Engineering at the Department of Environment and Planning (DAO), University of Aveiro (UA). He got the PhD from Free University of Brussels (Belgium) on Environmental Fluid Mechanics in 1981, and the Aggregation on Environmental Sciences and Engineering from UA in 1990.
During more than 45 years working on environmental and climate problems, he is representing Portugal in national and international scientific organizations, in committees for research and evaluation of environmental strategy and sustainable development. He was Minister of Environment (XI and XII Governments), Vice-Rector for Research in UA, Director of the Department of Environment and Planning, National Delegate to EU Research and Innovation Framework Programs on “Environment” during the last 24 years (since FP4) and Director of the European Association for the Science of Air Pollution – EURASAP. He is Counsellor Member of the Portuguese Engineers Association.
Since 1982 and as coordinator of the Research Group on Atmospheric Emissions, Modelling and Climate Change, he has been involved in more than 70 European and national projects, carried out more than 800 scientific publications and was editor or co-editor of 26 books, on environmental impact assessment, air quality numerical modelling and management, wind tunnel simulation of flow and dispersion, exposure to atmospheric pollutants and related human health, sustainable development and circular economy. He was the advisor of 21 doctoral theses and 34 master's dissertations.
The linking of research to the solution of societal challenges and the strong integration with the business community, justified the creation, in 1993, of IDAD-Institute for Environment and Development, the interface unit of UA for cooperation with Society. As Director of IDAD, he has coordinated, throughout these 25 years, professional consulting and multidisciplinary projects activities.