VITO is the largest research organisation in Belgium in the fields of the Environment, Energy, and Materials, comprising of more than 600 staff. Our research & development team Atmospheric Modelling is made up of about 25 staff members, including a strong IT support team. Members of the group develop urban- to regional-scale numerical atmospheric models, focusing on air quality and urban climate, and applying these models in policy support studies for local, national, and European authorities.
The Atmospheric Modelling team has a strong international profile and at the same time a long-standing tradition of collaborating with local stakeholders, always seeking to enhance the relevance of research results. Recently, the Atmospheric Modelling team developed a new deterministic urban climate model, which is as accurate as the more complex mesoscale models, yet faster by at least an order of magnitude. As a result, this model allows performing long simulations and several scenarios for a number of cities, within a reasonable computational time, as is required in RAMSES. The urban climate model has been applied and verified on more than ten cities throughout Europe. Its application over Paris for the Summer 2003 has allowed to demonstrate the effect of heat waves on the intensity of the urban heat island phenomenon.