Nilu - A centre for air pollution studies in Europe

NILU’s strong position in atmospheric European air research originated with studies of long range transport of air pollutants and acid rain in the 1970’s. This involvement is continued in the European Monitoring and Evaluation Programme (EMEP) established in 1977, in which NILU has a central position as the Chemical Co-ordinating Centre.

The OECD-project

The LRTAP-project (Long Range Transport of Air Pollutants) was NILU’s first large international project, and was conducted for OECD with the participation of 11 European countries. This project demonstrated that acid precipitation was an international problem, and that exchange of pollution between countries in Western and Eastern Europe was substantial. It was also concluded that international future co-operation to investigate and control the transboundary transport of pollution in Europe should include countries in Eastern Europe as well.

The EMEP programme

The OECD conclusions lead to the establishment of the European Monitoring and Evaluation Programme for Long-Range Transboundary Air Pollution in Europe (EMEP).

Nilu - A centre for air pollution studies in Europe

This was started in 1977 by the UN’s Economical Commission for Europe (ECE) in Geneva. NILU is responsible for the co-ordination of the measurement programme.

Good and documented data quality is essential in EMEP, since the measurements are to be used both for validation of models and as a check of the countries’ fulfil-ments of obligations to reduce emissions. EMEP’s quality control systems are therefore subject to continuous improvement. Comparison of the performance of chemical laboratories in the participating countries, and comparison of different types of samplers in the field, are important in this connection. NILU is also responsible for reporting of data.


The ozone hole in Antarctica and the depletion of the stratospheric ozone layer in the Northern Hemisphere have motivated the European Commission to initiate research on ozone depletion in the stratosphere. A substantial part of two large field campaigns were funded by EU, namely: the European Arctic Stratospheric Ozone Experiment (EASOE) in the 1991-92 winter and the Second European Stratospheric Arctic and Mid-latitude Experiment (SESA-ME), during the winters of 1993-94 and 1994-95. NILU participated in both these campaigns and in other projects on stratospheric ozone. All together, NILU has participated in 10 EU projects on stratospheric ozone research during 1992-1995.

Nilu - A centre for air pollution studies in Europe


NILU is participating in several international programmes where the input from the atmosphere to aquatic and terrestrial environments is of particular interest.

Investigations are performed within the Helsinki Commission (HELCOM) for the Baltic Sea. NILU holds the database for air and precipitation measurements for HELCOM, mainly in order to harmonize this database with EMEP, and to provide guidance with respect to data quality and data control. A similar arrangement has been discussed with respect to the OSPARCOM database.

Preserving cultural heritage in Europe

In the period 1990-93 NILU chaired the EUREKA-project EUROCARE and is still active in the Steering Committee for the EUREKA project. The objective is to establish market-oriented EUREKA projects for development of better methods, products, and standards for a better maintenance of the cultural heritage and existing buildings in Europe.

European Environment Agency (EEA)

In December 1994 NILU was given the responsibility as Topic Centre for air quality for the European Environment Agency, together with three other institutions, the National Institute for Public Health and Environment (RIVM) in the Netherlands, the Norwegian Meteorological Institute (DNMI), and the National Observatory (NOA) in Athens, Greece.

The EEA has defined 13 sub-projects and NILU is responsible for the following:

  • A report on monitoring of air quality in the different countries in Europe.
  • A survey report of the air quality in Europe in 1993-1994. In this connection, the European database APIS (urban air pollution data) will be upgraded.
  • Documentation and evaluation of models for dispersion of air pollutants, together with specifications of an information database for models at EEA.
  • Specifications and guidelines for input data and their use in the models. These will be worked out in co-operation with the participants in the Topic Centre for Air Quality.

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