From the poster of the Rotterdam site


  • Urban, largest European harbour, petrochemical industry, power plants, intense horticulture (“greenhouses”), 1.200.000 inhabitants in the urban region
  • Greenhouse gases, GHG flux determinations and source apportionment
  • In situ sensor rainfall network, rainfall radar
  • Urban meteorology and air quality


The greater Rotterdam area has a large anthropogenic influence on the (local) composition of the atmosphere. In this area, however, three distinctly different source areas and activities are present: the port with its large petrochemical industry, power plants and shipping activities, the city area with intense traffic and domestic heating, and the horticulture area Westland, with large natural gas combustion emissions (see figure). The combined, but spatially separated, presence of major source types makes Rotterdam an ideal test bed for innovative methods to characterize and quantify the different sources of anthropogenic emission.

Rationale for including in the Ruisdael Observatory

In the coming decade, the Rotterdam area will be subject to large changes in the energy system, such as the phase-out of coal-fired powerplants and increased electrification of transport systems, providing unique opportunities to test sensitivity of an urban observational system to monitor energy transitions towards a low carbon society. At present, 13 basic air quality stations are present in the Rotterdam area (operated by RIVM-DCMR), mostly focusing on inner-city air quality (street stations). Furthermore, TNO has initiated two greenhouse gas stations, Zweth and Westmaas (see figure) in 2014, with the purpose of testing the quantification of fossil fuel CO2 emissions in an “upwind-downwind” scheme (first results in Super et al, 2016). In 2018/2019, the Zweth station will be extended with a continuous atmospheric Oxygen measurement system by the UG, financed by a special ICOS-EU project (Ringo).

In The Netherlands, extreme rainfall has one of the highest return times in the Rotterdam area, due to its vicinity to the sea, prevalent wind flows and surface heterogeneity of the surroundings. High resolution rainfall measurements and forecasts are required to optimize water management in the city and its surroundings.

The stations in Zweth and Westmaas will be modernized, and a new, “urban background” station will be established on the Tweede Maasvlakte (in cooperation with the port of Rotterdam authorities, see figure). Using a sophisticated “upwind-downwind” scheme, in which Cabauw (only 35 km from Rotterdam) is the final downwind station, several tracers of anthropogenic activity (14C, atmospheric O2, BC, CO, NOx), and high-resolution forward modeling emissions of fossil CO2 and CH4, will be both apportioned to the various activities in the region. One station will be extended with an Aerosol Chemical Speciation Monitor (ACSM) to get a better handle on the composition, and sources of local pollution. Direct, more local observations of urban CO2 emissions using eddy covariance will be performed from a strategically chosen site in the city (both in terms of expected emissions and reliability of the observations). This system also allows for direct observations of evaporation which is an important part of urban water budget and links this budget to cooling (Jacobs et al., 2015). Moreover, measurements of the heat exchange along with other energy budget components allow to derive the anthropogenic heat flux that contributes to the urban heat island effect. The turbulence observations underlying the eddy covariance observations can also be used to evaluate urban atmospheric scaling relationships and pollution dispersion characteristics. The combination high resolution weather radar (funded by the Rotterdam municipality, and operated by TUD), surface rainfall equipment, and eddy covariance observations will give data to better understand the water balance in urban areas.


Coordinator of the Rotterdam stations is consortium partner TNO. Additional and clear information is included in the poster of the Rotterdam site.

Contact details: Hugo Denier van der Gon

For more information on the air quality monitoring stations and network: