Measuring and improving air quality in the Saudi Arabian capital, Riyadh

The Saudi Arabian capital, Riyadh, is experiencing rapid development in its metropolitan area leading to social and environmental sustainability challenges – including worsening air quality and its associated health impacts. Ricardo Energy & Environment has more than two decades’ experience of successful and focussed service delivery on air quality management and has been chosen by ArRiyadh Development Authority to deliver a consolidated air quality evidence base to support the development of its air quality policy.

Challenge

The project aims to draw together a single, authoritative source of information which identifies key pollutants and apportions their emissions by source in a robust way. The data gathered needs to be not only of the highest quality but also appropriate for informing emission reduction strategies and enhancing air quality management in the city of Riyadh.

Delivery

Ricardo Energy & Environment is using a state-of-the-art city-scale air quality modelling approach based on internationally recognised peer-reviewed atmospheric dispersion models such as the US Environmental Protection Agency’s AERMOD and CALPUFF codes. These will provide a comprehensive picture of air quality across the city now and in the future, beyond the currently available measured concentrations. Ricardo Energy & Environment’s own proven proprietary MODUS air quality data management system is being used to measure, manage, verify and report the collected data.

The system generates an hourly Air Quality Index bulletin to communicate health information to the public and provide associated air quality alerts. Ricardo Energy & Environment is also consolidating air quality measurement and modelling data within the ArRiyadh Development Authority’s existing ESRI Server GIS system in a fully -integrated way that enables interrogation, querying and reporting of data. Further advice is being provided on environmental impact assessments and the rationalisation of existing air quality measurements within the city.

Results

Alongside high quality data collection, analysis, interpretation and dissemination, Ricardo Energy & Environment is delivering a comprehensive programme of training and knowledge transfer to designated ArRiyadh Development Authority employees. This will ensure that the Authority reaps the full benefits of the systems delivery and that a lasting legacy of sustainability will be achieved.