The objective of DIAPASON is to demonstrate the benefit of innovative, affordable technologies, partly developed within the project, at attesting and assessing the effects of Saharan dust advections on European particulate matter (PM)* levels. In Europe contribution of Saharan dust to PM levels can be significant over a large part of the year. This condition impacts the air quality evaluations based on PM monitoring. The EU Air Quality Directive 2008/50/EC allows Member States to subtract the contribution of natural sources before comparing the ambient concentrations to the relevant limit values. In this respect, the European Commission (EC) has recently issued specific guidelines (EC, 2010) to help assessing contributions to PM levels of natural particles. Mineral particles from dry regions (i.e., desert dust aerosols) are among these natural contributions. The Saharan desert dust detection Methodology (dddM) suggested in the EC Guidelines will be the basis (BASELINE-dddM) on which the DIAPASON Project will build an upgraded desert dust detection methodology, the DIAPASON-dddM. The BASELINE-dddM bases the detection of the presence of Saharan dust at the measuring site on plausible consequences (increase in PM) rather than on evidences of the spreading to the ground of the satellite-observed and model-predicted dust plumes.
The DIAPASON Project aims to implement and demonstrate an innovative, robust, user-oriented dddM to obtain evidences of the advections of desert dust aerosols and quantify their relative contribution to the PM levels routinely measured by EU Member States as part of their air quality monitoring duties.
DIAPASON then proposes to strengthen and optimize the BASELINE-dddM, by means of new, advanced observations. To this end, prototypes of affordable remote sensing devices (Polarization Lidar-Ceilometers, PLCs) will be designed and produced within the Project. The DIAPASON desert dust detection Methodology will be based on measurements from these innovative systems operated together with optical particle counters (OPCs).
As Pilot scale, the Project will be implemented in the Rome metropolitan area (Italy) and will last 36 months, plus 6 months of safety margin. The whole DIAPASON-dddM will be easily transferable to the national level and/or to countries in Europe facing similar environmental problems.
As an added value, the innovative PLCs technology developed within DIAPASON will also be able to detect and monitor, with profiling capabilities, advections of other natural particulate matter as volcanic ash plumes or wild-land fires, also considered in the EC 2010 Guidelines.
Finally, an important DIAPASON objective is to propose the PLC instruments developed within the project to be considered as an EU standard setting reference. To ensure that, cooperation with important EU and national environmental agencies will be sought: EU AQ policy decision makers will be involved as stakeholders within the first year of the project, in particular, the DG-ENV Ambient Air Quality Committee. In addition to the stakeholders having already endorsed the project (e.g., Deutscher wetterdienst, Rome City Council, ARPA Emilia Romagna, ARPA Umbria, and ISPRA), cooperation will be sought with further European environmental agencies experienced with urban air quality, EU National governmental agencies, EU Research Institutes, and Local government agencies.