Dr. Emmanuel Anglo talks on CALPUFF dispersion modelling at Manila Observatory

by Quirino Sugon Jr and Steffie Castaneda

Last December 14, 2012, Dr. Emmanuel Anglo gave a introductory talk on CALPUFF Dispersion Modelling at the Klima Conference Room for the Brown Bag Lecture Series of Manila Observatory:


Dr. Emmanuel Anglo at the Klima Conference Room of Manila Observatory (14 Dec 2012)

CALPUFF is an advanced non-steady-state meteorological and air quality modeling system developed by Exponent scientists. It is maintained by the model developers and distributed by Exponent. The model has been adopted by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) in its Guideline on Air Quality Models as the preferred model for assessing long range transport of pollutants and their impacts on Federal Class I areas and on a case-by-case basis for certain near-field applications involving complex meteorological conditions. The modeling system consists of three main components and a set of preprocessing and postprocessing programs. The main components of the modeling system are CALMET (a diagnostic 3-dimensional meteorological model), CALPUFF (an air quality dispersion model), and CALPOST (a postprocessing package). Each of these programs has a graphical user interface (GUI). In addition to these components, there are numerous other processors that may be used to prepare geophysical (land use and terrain) data in many standard formats, meteorological data (surface, upper air, precipitation, and buoy data), and interfaces to other models such as the Penn State/NCAR Mesoscale Model (MM5), the National Centers for Environmental Prediction (NCEP) Eta/NAM and RUC models, the Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) model and the RAMS model. (Source: Exponent Engineering and Scientific Consulting)

 Dr. Anglo taught at the Department of Physics and the Department of Environmental Sciences and served as a dispersion modelling scientist at Manila Observatory from 2002 to 2008. At present, Dr. Anglo is an Senior Associate Scientist for Air Quality at Amec Foster Wheeler. As an Applied meteorologist, his work is currently focused on regulatory dispersion modelling for facilities in the Alberta Oil Sands.

Below is an interview with Dr. Emmanuel Anglo by Ateneo Physics News.

1. What was your career path since you left Ateneo de Manila University and Manila Observatory? 

I worked on RCS (Regional Climate Systems) and on UAQ (Urban Air Quality). I also taught in ES (Environmental Science). When I left, I was recruited by an Australian firm specializing in dispersion modelling and in air quality consulting. I stayed there until December 2008. After that, we went to Canada. And then in March, I worked for AMEC Environment and Infrastructure.

2. What was your talk all about?

It was a project where I was asked to model the concentrations of particulates in Metro Manila for the Philippine Department of Health. Fr. Jett Villarin, SJ was involved in that, together with the economists and health risk assessment from PGH. Fr. Jett assigned me to do the modelling. However, the problem with it is that it was outdated 4 years ago.

About a year ago or two, I met Dr. Ed Alabastro. He has strong ties with the industry. He said that he’s interested in updating that map. He came up with funding. I told him that the Manila Observatory should get involved if they are going to update that, they are going to need a lot of sources that only the MO possess.

They started meeting with Clean Air Asia. It was called Clean Air Initiatives back then. They formulated the plan. As I committed to Dr. Alabastro, I’m going to help him in modelling. That is why I am here—to update, to start with what we left in 2008. The main difference I guess is that we have a better mandate, a better initial state, and we have to use a different model. We must upgrade that type of model.


CALPUFF Dispersion Modelling

3. Can you tell us something about CALPUFF dispersion modelling?

You can run that model as a blackbox and get away with it. It’s certainly true for a lot of users. You just need someone who can supervise on how the model is to be adapted to the problem, e.g. whether the parameters make sense, so that when the results come up, there’s someone to interpret them. There’s not really much to research about it. It’s not a research model, but a regulatory one. One must have good knowledge in using it.

Right now, I can’t come up with a research topic that’s based on it, other than perhaps the sensitivity studies, e.g.if you change this number, how will it affect the result?.

5. Why is there a need for a Philippine­-wide standard meteorological database?

At the start of my presentation, I mentioned the Philippine Dispersion Modelling guidelines. It was what is recommended, but no one has the capability to do it and no one has the data to solely do that, and so we have to come up with the tools and data that would allow us to implement those guidelines. It is about time we use better science for decision-making.

In modelling, even though there are a lot of industries in there, one might come up with tricks and shortcuts. In other words, it is poor science. I want to avoid that. In some cases where the data is inaccurate or lacking, the modeller might come up with non­standard methodology to come up with meteorological data, but that’s not right way to do things.

Hopefully, with standard database, it can be available to anyone who wants to do a modelling so that you are sure you have a data to run a model and you can come up with a sure dispersion modelling. That is how it is done abroad. In Australia, they have a model named Tatum, an air pollution model. You purchase the license to run the model. In Alberta, you purchase the meteorological database—5 years for the entire province—and it is free for downloading. It is worth 500 gb of data. You can download that. Thus, everyone starts with the same meteorological database. You do not try to use anything there that is new or strange or unacceptable, because base from my experiences in Australia and Canada, that’s how I would very likely train a few people in using it, because there’s nothing really much to do.

I have to admit also that I was hoping Philippine­-wide standard meteorological database becomes the standard tool for modelling in industrial places like Bataan where you cannot get meteorological data to do dispersion modelling.

6. What do we do to address the problem of lack of data?

Since generating a data is not simple, I imagine the Manila Observatory will be the repository of that database so they can get the data from the MO. It cannot be free to get it, because in order to maintain the database, MO has to allocate the sources. The Department of Environment and Natural Resources must recognize that this database is official and acceptable.

7. Do you have any parting message for the students of Physics or Atmospheric Science?

I am glad to know that Manila Observatory is better than ever, and I have no reason to be guilty about it. I am happy to be part of it again.

There is a lot of work out there. I like to think that Ateneo is unique in that sense—that if you want to engage in the world, you cannot lock yourself out. If you want science to serve for the public good, then you have to take work that is outside the university, such as engaging in industry or government.

Though I still like to do research that I can actually publish, I like to think that doing environmental studies or doing science in the way it should be done serves a purpose in itself. I think more scientists should go into that even if it is just for part­-time. Science was used to guide decisions especially those which pertain to the environment, and that is how it should be done. We do not do science for the sake of science, but we do science because it could serve something and has some application in real world, so there is no doubt that there is plenty of room for science to find value in those applications, and I am happy that was my job.

When I went to the BAQ conference in Hong Kong to present a paper, I met a lot of students and Ateneans doing work for Clear Air Asia in urban air quality. Although they are not necessarily doing what you call research, I am certain that they are doing work for science and the environment in general.

There are other careers for scientists if research is not your calling, like in my case. When I left, I felt kind of guilty that I had to abandon the MS Atmospheric Science. But now, I’m happy.


About ateneophysicsnews
Physics News and Features from Ateneo de Manila University

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