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Wet British summer may have delivered cleanest Olympics ever, University of Manchester researchers say

By James Callery

University of Manchester researchers say the UK’s unusually wet summer weather may have delivered one of the least-polluted Olympic Games in history.

Atmospheric scientists are making eight flights around London to measure carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide and aerosol levels, key markers of pollution and hazard to health.

So far they have discovered that long periods of stormy weather and low pressure give rise to excellent air quality.

A host of scientific agencies around the UK have been monitoring air and ground pollution levels over the last two years as part of ClearFlo – Clean Air For London.

The project aims to provide long term measurements of London’s Urban atmosphere.

ClearFlo aims to establish what happens to Urban Pollution and where it goes and early results have indicated that the lengthy periods of low pressure which have caused dreadful weather in London and across the UK have meant that pollution has moved off shore rather than hovering over the capital. 

The high pressure areas on the other hand, which are often sunny, tend to harness the pollution levels.

Dr Grant Allen, of the University of Manchester, said: “Put simply the reason the air quality is so good is because the weather has been so bad this summer.

“The areas of low pressure have left us with very clean air, unusually clean for summer months over the UK. The pollution that is generated moves away in the evenings and goes in a variety of directions depending on wind direction”

“A change in the weather, such as that seen in the week leading up to the Opening Ceremony could bring pollution levels back closer to the norm but the processes by which this happens are exactly what we are aiming to study during ClearFlo.”

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