12/17/2014

Study: Traditional Traffic Models Vastly Underestimate Emissions

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Conventional methods of modeling emissions from cars can produce results as much as 60% lower than actual pollution levels, according to scientists at the U.K.'s Newcastle University.

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Conventional methods of modeling emissions from cars can produce results as much as 60% lower than actual pollution levels, according to scientists at the U.K.'s Newcastle University.

The researchers note that traditional models look only at overall average traffic speed. Such methodology ignores the effect of hills, nearby buildings and stop-start traffic patterns typical of congested roadways.

The new modeling technique calculates emissions according to individual vehicle type, speed, acceleration, weather conditions and local terrain. The technique is dubbed PITHEM, short for platform for integrated traffic, health and environmental modeling.

The team tested the model in nearby Durham, helping city planners there implement measures to improve traffic flow and reduce vehicular emissions. They report results in the International Journal of Environment and Pollution.