Where the Atmospheric Dispersion and Air Quality Group fits into the Met Office
The Atmospheric Dispersion and Air Quality Group (ADAQG) is a team within the United Kingdom's Met Office.[1] The primary focus of the group is the development and/or improving of atmospheric dispersion models[2] for predicting the transport, dispersion, atmospheric chemistry and deposition of atmospheric pollutants. The dispersion model outputs are particularly applicable for use by governmental regulatory bodies and emergency response.

The ADAQG sections

There are three sections or sub-groups within the ADAQG as described just below.

Air Quality and Composition (AQC) group

Air pollutants such as particulate matter as well as gaseous sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides are released into the atmosphere by the combustion of fossil fuels and by various industrial processes.

In order to predict atmospheric concentrations of pollutants, the AQC group[3] integrates knowledge of pollutant emissions with relevant meteorology and chemical evolution in an air quality forecast model named AQUM (Air Quality Unified Model).[4]
Key aims and projects:
  • Improve air quality forecasting and modelling by the AQUM model.
  • Deliver the Met Office's operational air quality forecasting capability using the AQUM model.
  • Apply atmospheric composition modelling expertise to a variety of problems.
  • Provide air quality forecasts to the British Broadcast Corporation (BBC).
  • Near-real-time verification of air quality forecasts.
  • Health impacts modelling.
  • Visibility forecasting.

Applied Atmospheric Dispersion (AAD) group

The release of both natural and anthropogenic (man-made) contaminants into the atmosphere can present numerous hazards to human health, animals and plants and the climate. The degree of impact is dependent on the pollutant and its concentration. Atmospheric dispersion modelling is the use of computer models to simulate the release, movement, dispersion, deposition and environmental impact of atmospheric pollutants and is the means to predict the impact of such pollutants over distances ranging from a few hundred meters to the entire globe.

The Applied Atmospheric Dispersion (AAD) group[5] performs a wide range of activities combining research, model development, consultancy, emergency response and governmental policy support associated with atmospheric dispersion. Our primary tool is the NAME model system[6] which is continually being improved and applied to an ever-growing range of atmospheric dispersion and related problems, ranging from air quality to estimating emissions of greenhouse gases.

Key aims and projects
  • Perform research in the field of atmospheric dispersion.
  • Developing and improving the NAME model system.
  • Support the Met Office operational emergency response capability related to atmospheric dispersion.
  • Provide expert advice to the UK Government, academia, the international community and commercial enterprises in all areas involving atmospheric dispersion.
  • Interpreting observations at remote measurement stations to estimate long-term atmospheric trends and regional emissions of greenhouse and ozone-depleting gases.
  • National and international policy support to DEFRA in relation to modeling the formation of secondary particulate matter and estimating the source of their primary precursors.
  • Provision of three-dimensional meteorology for dispersion and inversion modelling.
  • Modeling the dispersion of sulfur dioxide and the formation of sulfates from volcanic eruptions.
  • Scientific collaboration with a number of national and international organizations.

Atmospheric Dispersion Research and Response (ADRR) group

The primary tool used by the ADRR group[7] is the NAME model system which is continually developed and applied to an ever-growing variety of atmospheric transport and dispersion problems, ranging from research activities to numerous emergency response activities. For example, NAME has been used for events such as the nuclear/radiological release at Fukushima, Japan in 2011, the volcanic eruption at Eyjafjallajokull, Iceland in 2010 and the industrial fire at the oil storage depot in Buncefield, England in 2005 as well as the spread of animal diseases such as foot-and-mouth disease and bluetongue. NAME is now a hugely flexible and sophisticated atmospheric dispersion model.

An ability to deliver sound advice for releases of all these types of emergencies requires NAME to be able to represent a wide range of physical and chemical processes and reactions. When linked to the Met Office's world leading numerical weather prediction model, the Unified Model, it is possible for NAME to predict the spread of atmospheric contaminants from emergency events anywhere on the planet.

Key aims and projects:
  • Perform research in the field of atmospheric dispersion.
  • Developing and improving the NAME model system.
  • Improving the Met Office's operational capabilities and services in atmospheric dispersion modeling.
  • Providing expert support and advice to emergency responders, the United Kingdom government and the international community in the event of major contaminant releases to the atmosphere.
  • Improving the representation of effects of urban environments on dispersing plumes within the NAME model.
  • Developing the forecasting of volcanic ash dispersion including extensive validation against observation data.
  • Production and use of probabilistic dispersion forecasts. This involves quantifying the source, meteorological and impact uncertainties.
  • Scientific collaboration with a number of United Kingdom agencies (e.g. Health Protection Agency) and universities.


  1. ^ Atmospheric Dispersion and Air Quality From the Met Office website.
  2. ^ M.R. Beychok (2005), Fundamentals of Stack Gas Dispersion, Fourth Edition, self-published, ISBN 0-9644588-0-2.
  3. ^ Air Quality and Composition. From the Met Office website.
  4. ^ C.Ordóñez, N.H. Savage and P. Agnew (August 2009), ‎Regional air quality forecasting in the Met Office Unified Model, an online publication of the United Kingdom's Met Office.
  5. ^ Applied Atmospheric Dispersion. From the Met Office website.
  6. ^ Met Office Dispersion Model. From the Met Office website.
  7. ^ Atmospheric Dispersion Research and Response. From the Met Office website.