Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Cold winters mean more pollution

Differences in air pressure over the North Atlantic have meant that the last two winters in Gothenburg, Sweden, have been extremely cold. This has led to the air in Gothenburg being more polluted with nitrogen oxides than ever before. A new study from the University of Gothenburg shows that there is a strong link between climate and air pollution.

The winter weather in Gothenburg and large parts of North-West Europe is partly down to the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO), in other words the differences in air pressure over the North Atlantic. The NAO swings between positive and negative phases depending on the differences in air pressure between Iceland and the Azores.

When the NAO is in a negative phase – as has been the case during the last two winters – the city has cold winters because the low pressure sits over southern Europe, while cold air from the polar region or Siberia sits over northern Europe.

In a study carried out in Gothenburg, a group of researchers from the University of Gothenburg investigated how the concentrations of nitrogen oxides (NO and NO2) in the air can be linked to the weather. Published in the scientific journal Atmospheric Environment, the study shows that the air quality standard has been exceeded more and more frequently during periods of a negative NAO even though emissions have fallen in the city centre since 2000 according to official measurements from the Environmental Administration.

“These extremely cold winters in Gothenburg, with high cold air, bring a clear deterioration in air quality,” says Maria Grundström from the University of Gothenburg’s Department of Plant and Environmental Sciences, one of the researchers behind the study. “With typical Gothenburg weather – low air pressure with precipitation and strong winds – the air pollution is dispersed more quickly on account of better air mixing.”

Air mixing is often poor in Gothenburg during the months when the NAO is negative. This means that air pollution emitted at ground level accumulates and that the air quality becomes very poor. During the winter months of 1997 to 2006, concentrations of nitrogen oxides were around 18% higher during months when the NAO was negative than when it was positive.

Air quality standards for nitrogen dioxide (NO2) were exceeded far more often when the NAO was in a negative phase. The researchers refer, for example, to the fact that the number of exceedances of the hourly limit for nitrogen dioxide (90 µg/m3) increased. This can be linked to the fact that the NAO has tended increasingly to be in a negative phase during the winter months over the last two years.

The study was carried out by Maria Grundström, Jenny Klingberg and Håkan Pleijel from the Department of Plant and Environmental Sciences at the University of Gothenburg, and climate researcher Hans Linderholm from the Department of Earth Sciences at the University of Gothenburg.

The article, Urban NO2 and NO pollution in relation to the North Atlantic Oscillation NAO, published in Atmospheric Environment, can be downloaded from:

For further information, please contact:
Håkan Pleijel, Department of Plant and Environmental Sciences, University of Gothenburg
+46 (0)31 786 2532
+46 (0)73 310 0700
Hans Linderholm, Department of Earth Sciences, University of Gothenburg
+46 (0)31 786 2887
+46 (0)70 858 9504

Helena Aaberg | idw
Further information:

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht Dispersal of Fish Eggs by Water Birds – Just a Myth?
19.02.2018 | Universität Basel

nachricht Removing fossil fuel subsidies will not reduce CO2 emissions as much as hoped
08.02.2018 | International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)

All articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Locomotion control with photopigments

Researchers from Göttingen University discover additional function of opsins

Animal photoreceptors capture light with photopigments. Researchers from the University of Göttingen have now discovered that these photopigments fulfill an...

Im Focus: Surveying the Arctic: Tracking down carbon particles

Researchers embark on aerial campaign over Northeast Greenland

On 15 March, the AWI research aeroplane Polar 5 will depart for Greenland. Concentrating on the furthest northeast region of the island, an international team...

Im Focus: Unique Insights into the Antarctic Ice Shelf System

Data collected on ocean-ice interactions in the little-researched regions of the far south

The world’s second-largest ice shelf was the destination for a Polarstern expedition that ended in Punta Arenas, Chile on 14th March 2018. Oceanographers from...

Im Focus: ILA 2018: Laser alternative to hexavalent chromium coating

At the 2018 ILA Berlin Air Show from April 25–29, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT is showcasing extreme high-speed Laser Material Deposition (EHLA): A video documents how for metal components that are highly loaded, EHLA has already proved itself as an alternative to hard chrome plating, which is now allowed only under special conditions.

When the EU restricted the use of hexavalent chromium compounds to special applications requiring authorization, the move prompted a rethink in the surface...

Im Focus: Radar for navigation support from autonomous flying drones

At the ILA Berlin, hall 4, booth 202, Fraunhofer FHR will present two radar sensors for navigation support of drones. The sensors are valuable components in the implementation of autonomous flying drones: they function as obstacle detectors to prevent collisions. Radar sensors also operate reliably in restricted visibility, e.g. in foggy or dusty conditions. Due to their ability to measure distances with high precision, the radar sensors can also be used as altimeters when other sources of information such as barometers or GPS are not available or cannot operate optimally.

Drones play an increasingly important role in the area of logistics and services. Well-known logistic companies place great hope in these compact, aerial...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Industry & Economy
Event News

Ultrafast Wireless and Chip Design at the DATE Conference in Dresden

16.03.2018 | Event News

International Tinnitus Conference of the Tinnitus Research Initiative in Regensburg

13.03.2018 | Event News

International Virtual Reality Conference “IEEE VR 2018” comes to Reutlingen, Germany

08.03.2018 | Event News

Latest News

Wandering greenhouse gas

16.03.2018 | Earth Sciences

'Frequency combs' ID chemicals within the mid-infrared spectral region

16.03.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Biologists unravel another mystery of what makes DNA go 'loopy'

16.03.2018 | Life Sciences

Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>