Project structure

The activities of the project are grouped into five working packages (WP). The first four WPs are in line with the project objectives: developing novel, stable and traceable references for VOCs (objective 1, WP1); improving sampling and analytical methods (objective 3, WP3); establishing guidelines and procedures for the correct sampling, calibration and analysis of VOCs (objectives 2−3, WP2−3); and disseminating metrological concepts − traceability of working standards, calibration and measurement uncertainty − to the field monitoring stations (objectives 2−4, WP2−4).

WP1: VOC reference gas standards for use in the monitoring of the atmospheric chemistry

WP1 focuses on developing fit-for-purpose static and dynamic reference gas standards of VOCs, relevant for atmospheric monitoring networks and selected in agreement with stakeholders, which are metrologically traceable, accurate and stable.

For the selected oxygenated VOCs and terpenes, the objective is to prepare reference gas standards at amount-of-substance fractions between 100 and 1000 nmol/mol in nitrogen, with a target expanded uncertainty < 5 %. In the case of halogenated VOCs, the objective is to prepare standards at amount-of-substance fractions < 1 nmol/mol in synthetic air with a target uncertainty < 3 %. WP1 also deals with the collection of whole air samples from remote areas in inert vessels and their certification. Due to its similar composition to the air samples analysed by monitoring networks, whole air is the preferred matrix gas used by these networks for the calibration of their instrumentation.

WP1 outcome feeds WP2 (working standards) and WP4 (creating impact).

WP2: Working standards: traceability, dissemination and comparisons

WP2 aims overall to provide long-term, sustainable support for the analysis of VOCs for ambient air measurement sites in Europe, by ensuring end-users have adequate and SI-traceable working standards, which are as close as possible to ambient amount-of-substance fractions, to calibrate their instruments.

The activities of WP2 focus on developing user-driven protocols for working standards − with amount-of-substance fractions as close as technically feasible to the ambient air and matrix to avoid non-linearity and matrix effects − for the VOCs selected in WP1. WP2 deals also with the validation of the working standards using the reference gas standards developed in WP1 and their comparison with currently used methods at the monitoring stations. Moreover, the development of a user-friendly digital tool is included in WP2 to allow data providers to calculate the uncertainty propagation of the measurements.

WP2 receives input from WP1 (reference gas standards) and WP3 (measurement methods) and feeds WP4 (creating impact).

WP3: Development and improvement of measurement methods

In addition to using well-defined standards and molecular parameters as inputs, measurement methods also require advance and up-to-date protocols, which include sampling and analytical procedures, as well as their contribution to the expanded uncertainty.

WP3 aims therefore to provide proper guidelines for the measurement of the VOCs selected in WP1. WP3 activities deal with the selection of the best methods to measure VOCs and their improvement and evaluation, in order to write detailed recommendations for targeted performances (e.g. data quality objectives of monitoring networks). These activities also include measuring and characterising metrologically spectral parameters, which are relevant for the spectroscopic methods used in remote sensing to assess VOCs. Furthermore, determining the major uncertainty contribution from components related to analytical methods and developing the full uncertainty budget of the methods are within the scope of WP3.

WP3 output feeds WP2 (working standards) and WP4 (creating impact).

WP4: Creating impact

WP4 aims to maximise the impact of the project by ensuring a wide dissemination of the knowledge generated. Activities of WP4 are grouped in knowledge transfer, training, and uptake and exploitation.

Knowledge transfer activities cover the creation of a stakeholder committee, constitute by members related to atmospheric monitoring organizations, in order to get advice or guidance on deliverables when necessary and to maximise the knowledge transfer from the project to the measurement stations. These activities deal also with presenting actively the results of the project at international conferences, standard bodies and committees and social media, and publishing the results in open access peer-reviewed journals and popular press.

Training activities cover workshops for stakeholders, training and lessons provided at research institutes and universities (POLITO, UU, IMTelecom), training, visits and short secondments among partners and videos with on-line tutorials and presentations of new techniques to measure VOCs.

The uptake and exploitation category includes a broad variety of activities, such as introducing fit-for-purpose calibration services or reference materials for the VOCs selected in WP1 and publishing guidelines and recommendations on VOCs and/or including the progress on the analysis and sampling techniques in current guidelines (e.g. WMO-GAW and ACTRIS guidelines).

WP5: Management and coordination

METAS leads WP5, which includes project management and coordination activities.