AirLab an urban atmospheric monitoring device, developed by University of Melbourne.  AirLab is situated on top of one of the tallest buildings at the University of Melbourne and hosts a suite of remote sensing atmospheric instruments that records real-time atmospheric observations that feed into a long-term monitoring database.

AirLab has been developed in collaboration with CSIRO, EPA, Queensland University of Technology and AIRBOX partners.  It includes:

  • A PICARRO greenhouse gas analyser that measures gas-phase composition of methane, carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide concentrations.
  • A Scanning Mobility Particle Sizer that provides the size distribution of particles in the ultrafine range from 0.001 – 1 m
  • Particulate matter measurements using a PALAS AQ-GUARD Particle Monitor, which measures PM1, PM2.5 , PM5, PM10, total suspended particulate and total Volatile Organic Compounds, as well as particle counts and size distribution from 0.175-20 m
  • Filter-based techniques that provide particulate matter measurements with an Air Photon Integrating Nephelometer (PM2.5, PM10, aerosol scattering, relative humidity and temperature). This Nephelometer is part of the international Surface Particulate Matter Network (SPARTAN) which publishes PM2.5 mass, chemical composition, and optical characteristics for use in satellite validation.

AirLab can also host atmospheric monitoring instruments using a mobile atmospheric chemistry laboratory – such as those found in AIRBOX.  This includes a High Vol Air Sampler which collects particulates on a filter for aerosol composition analysis, and a Multi-AXis Differential Optical Absorption Spectrometer, which measures NO2, O3, HCHO, CHOCHO and water vapour.

AirLab’s ability to take measurements of the entire particulate size range, enables the research team to effectively characterise pollutant populations in urban environments through their physical, optical and chemical properties. Monitoring of greenhouse gas emissions helps to quantify current urban emissions, inform chemistry-climate models, validate satellite products, and improve future climate change predictions. Additionally, city-scale data may identify and mitigate potential leaks in gas/air-conditioning systems in the urban network. Pollutant datasets will enable research into identifying public health pollutant exposure and creating actionable data for harm-reduction efforts. This data may be used for calibration of low-cost sensor networks in smart-sensored cities.

AirLab provides an exciting opportunity at the frontier of urban atmospheric chemistry, providing real-time pollutant data available to the public to make informed choices on outdoor activities and facilitating the advent of chemical weather forecasting technology.

Contact: Robyn Schofield

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