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Modelling atmospheric composition and climate for the Belgian territory (MACCBET)

Research project SD/CS/04A (Research action SD)

Persons :

Description :


The consortium brings together four institutes in Belgium where regional climate modeling is performed namely KULeuven (Katholieke Universiteit Leuven), VITO (Flemish Insititute for Technological Research), UCL (Université Catholique de Louvain) and RMI (Royal Meteorological Institute of Belgium). In 2007, KULeuven, VITO and UCL made the strategic decision to join a growing European research community around COSMO-CLM ( By joining this community, both national and international collaboration could be strengthened substantially. It enabled an excellent connection to the European scientific community Valorisation within Belgium is ensured by the follow-up team of users (see below). International embedding (CORDEX activities and climate projections in neighbouring countries) is established by the scientific follow up community.

Project description


The aim of the proposed research is to establish projections of future climate and air quality for Belgium, at an unprecedented spatial resolution, and using the latest insights and parameterizations of processes affecting regional climate and atmospheric composition.


The project will be largely based on the “COSMO model in Climate Mode” (CCLM), a state-of-the-art regional climate model.

Interaction between the different partners

As different teams with different strengths will work on the same topic, a frequent interaction between the different partners is foreseen. For example, both UCL and KULeuven will upgrade the model and this will be done in close collaboration. The RMI contribution is essential to assess whether a modification in the model is actually an improvement. Moreover, the atmospheric fields resulting from the climate simulations with the CCLM model (KULeuven task) will be employed to force the AURORA regional air quality model (VITO). Only by regular interaction between the partners it can be ensured that this is done adequately. In addition, regular meetings (2 per year) with the project partners and the members of the follow-up committee will be organised in order to discuss the progress and difficulties in case these arise.

Expected results and/or products

• An improved and extended model. This will be done by upgrading the model schemes relevant for extreme precipitation events. Moreover, the CCLM model will be adapted so that contrails and their effect on the climate can be better assessed. We will also implement and test a new experimental scheme describing vegetation dynamics. With respect to air quality, the focus will be on establishing harmonized pollutant emissions for Belgium. Finally, we will explore ways of downscaling CCLM model output to high resolutions over cities, accounting for urban surface effects (including anthropogenic heating), aiming at a spatial resolution of several hundred of meters.

• Datasets containing present and future climate variables. The upgraded models will be employed to simulate present and future climate. The CCLM model will be run in nested mode, taking output fields from the EC-EARTH Global Climate Model to specify lateral boundary conditions, covering scales ranging from the European continent to the Belgian territory at resolutions of 25-7-3 km approximately. The coarsest (25-km) simulation will be done in transient mode, covering the period 2000-2069. The 7- and 3-km simulations will cover periods of ten years, considering current (2000-2009) as well as future (e.g., 2020-2029 and 2060-2069) periods. As a result, climate simulations will be performed for Belgium at a spatial resolution of 3 km, yielding a level of detail that has rarely ever been achieved in regional climate simulations. The advantage of this 3-km spatial resolution is that CCLM can then explicitly simulate deep convection, rather than having to use a sub-grid convection parameterization.

• Datasets containing present and future air quality variables in especially hourly fields of pollutant concentrations, focusing on species that are regulated and/or that have known adverse effects on human health (ozone, nitrogen dioxide, aerosol species including sulphates, nitrates, and elemental carbon...). As with the climate simulations, the air quality simulations will cover present and future periods. The air quality fields generated will allow constituting the most detailed air quality climatologies ever generated for Belgium. CCLM output will be downscaled to obtain high-resolution (scale of hundreds of meters) climate fields over the urban agglomeration of Brussels, focusing on the simulation of the urban heat island phenomenon.

• An improved understanding of the impact of climate change in Belgium on the studied processes, including heat-island effects, air quality, precipitation, and the interaction with vegetation. With respect to the hydrologic cycle, an investigation will be conducted regarding the projected changes in extreme precipitation events. Also, the effect of including the dynamic vegetation module on simulated climate will be explored, considering in particular feedback mechanisms involving vegetation growth and climate. Atmospheric concentration fields simulated by AURORA, in particular those of aerosols, will be evaluated regarding their climate effect. At smaller scales, the impact of climate change on the urban heat island intensity and frequency will be evaluated. In addition, the impact of enhanced greening scenarios for urban climate adaptation will be assessed.


Partner 1:
Name: Prof. Dr. Nicole van Lipzig
Activities: Regional climate modelling, climate simulations, hydrological cycle, land use change and dynamical vegetation

Partner 2:
Name: Dr. Koen de Ridder
Activities: Climate and air quality simulations, urban heat island, emission modelling

Partner 3:
Name: Prof. Dr. Jean-Pascal van Ypersele de Strihou
Activities: Regional climate modeling, cloud and precipitation microphysics, contrail modelling

Partner 4:
Name: Dr. Laurent Delobbe
Activities: Radar meteorology, model evaluation

Contact Information

Partner 1:

Name: Prof. Dr. Nicole van Lipzig
Institution: K.U.Leuven - Katholieke Universiteit Leuven
Department: Aard- en Omgevingswetenschappen
Street + number: Celestijnenlaan 200e - bus 2409
Postal code + City: 3001 Heverlee
Telephone number: +32 16 326453 or +32 16 322980
Fax number: +32 16 327800

Partner 2:

Name: Dr. Koen de Ridder
Institution: VITO – Vlaamse Instelling voor Technologisch Onderzoek
Street + number: Boeretang 200
Postal code + City: 2400 MOL
Telephone number: + 32 14 33 55 11
Fax number: + 32 14 33 55 99

Partner 3:

Name: Prof. Dr. Jean-Pascal van YPERSELE de STRIHOU
Institution: UCL – Université Catholique de Louvain
Departement: Earth & Climate (ELIC)
Street + number: Chemin du Cyclotron 2 bte L7.01.11
Postal code + City: 1348 Louvain-la-Neuve
Telephone number: +32 10 47 32 96
Fax number: +32 10 47 47 22

Partner 4:

Name: Dr. Laurent Delobbe
Institution: RMI – Royal Meteorological Institute Belgium
Street + number: Avenue Circulaire 3
Postal code + City: 1180 Uccle
Telephone number: +322/373 05 62
Fax number: +32 2/375 12 69

Documentation :

Modelling atmospheric composition and climate for the Belgian territory (MACCBET) : final report  van Lipzig, Nicolas - Saeed, Sajjad - Demuzere, Matthias ... et al.  Brussels : Belgian Science Policy, 2017 (SP2669)
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