A numerical study of local traffic volume and air quality within urban street canyons

Research output: Journal Publications and Reviews (RGC: 21, 22, 62)21_Publication in refereed journalpeer-review

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Original languageEnglish
Article number148138
Journal / PublicationScience of the Total Environment
Online published5 Jun 2021
Publication statusPublished - 15 Oct 2021


Although pollutant sources are often assumed to be spatially uniform, traffic in real cities may vary significantly in space. Consequently the local air quality within a street may not be determined solely by the traffic volume of the street. Using building-resolving large-eddy simulation, the relationship between traffic volume and air quality is investigated in the context of two idealised problems: (i) the influence of pollutants emitted from a main road on the surrounding side streets and (ii) the pedestrianisation of a central thoroughfare. It is shown that the spatial variation of traffic volume is of crucial importance within a near-field region defined by a radius of homogenisation (RAD). Furthermore, the actual impact depends strongly on the wind direction. Hence the benefits of pedestrianisation may be limited: for example, after removing 100% of the traffic along a street in a central business district, the annual-averaged local concentration decreases by ~30% when the urban background is neglected. The impact may be significantly lower when the background concentration is considered. This work is relevant to the formulation of effective traffic control policy and the improved understanding of spatially inhomogeneous pollutant sources.

Research Area(s)

  • Computational fluid dynamics, Pedestrianisation, Pollutant dispersion, Street canyon, Wind direction