Cambridge Environmental Research Consultants (CERC)

airTEXT during Saharan dust episode


CERC operates the airTEXT air quality forecasting service for London. Text ‘airtext’ to 78070 to receive free text alerts or sign up here to receive alerts by text, email or voicemail.

The Government's air quality forecast is provided by the Met Office. Over recent days, the Met Office forecast has far exceeded monitored levels in London. In contrast, airTEXT predictions for London have matched well with observations.

National media attention has focussed on the Government’s air pollution forecast for yesterday and today, which predicted high to very high levels of pollution in London due to Saharan dust. Whilst levels were elevated yesterday evening due to the dust and remained elevated overnight, the Met Office forecast over-predicted the duration and intensity of the effect. Alternative forecasts of Saharan dust which are used to inform airTEXT are provided by ECMWF under the EU MACC project. These forecasts predicted elevated but lower levels than the Met Office. TheairTEXT forecast across London for today Thursday 3rd April 2014 is ‘high’ for fine particles. Click here for related health advice.

Note that websites that show the latest observations of fine particles show an average over the previous twenty-four hours, whereas airTEXT predicts an average over the calendar day. Also note that forecasting air pollution accurately is very challenging, especially where sources are difficult to characterise as is the case for Saharan dust. Different forecast providers use different forecasting methods. For more information, please

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