Initiative on "Harmonisation within Atmospheric Dispersion Modelling for Regulatory Purposes"

More information on:

Previous conferences: Information and proceedings

Conference in Bruges, Belgium, June 2019

Conference in Bologna, Italy, October 2017

Conference in Budapest, Hungary, May 2016

Conference in Varna, Bulgaria, September 2014

Conference in Madrid, Spain 2013

Model Validation Kit

Related activities and tools

John Irwin's data archive

Steering committee


Home page of the initiative on Harmonisation within Atmospheric Dispersion Modelling for Regulatory Purposes.

The current page gives a brief description of activities etc. For more thorough information, follow the links.

Contents of the present page:

Background of the initiative

In 1991, a European initiative was launched for increased cooperation and standardisation of atmospheric dispersion models for regulatory purposes. A "new generation" of models is emerging with physically more justifiable parametrisations of dispersion processes. A need was felt for these new models to be developed in a well-organized manner and turned into practical, generally accepted tools fit for the various needs of decision-makers. On this background it was decided to organize a series of workshops to promote the use of new-generation models within atmospheric dispersion modelling, and in general improve "modelling culture". The subsequent activities have now been going on for more than 20 years, and have developed to a series of succesful international conferences.

One of the ideas behind the initiative is to make the most of the knowledge available in the modelling community. A lot of experiences with use of models are acquired over time, but there is a lack of proper mechanisms to transfer these experiences so that they are used in modelling and in the decision making process. One of the roles of the initiative is to help establish such mechanisms. Thus, the series of conferences can be said to deal with improvement of "modelling culture" in Europe.

Two topics are very central to the conferences:

  • How can we pool experiences and encourage re-use of our work?
  • Which measures can we take in order to assure that assessments based on modelling are considered trustworthy?

There are many aspects of this such as: ensuring that models are scientifically sound; model validation; guidance to ensure proper use of models; promotion of good practices and elimination of bad practices; quality assurance with respect to model development; establishment of reference problems; comparability of input and output; ensuring proper exchange of experiences.

For more background information see: "Ten years of Harmonisation activities: Past, present and future" (paper presented at the 7th Harmonisation conference in May 2001).

Other useful information can for instance be found in the paper Improving modelling culture: Obstacles and opportunities (pdf, 150 kB), which gives various practical advice on resources, which modellers can benefit from in their daily work. It was presented by the chairman of the Harmonisation initiative, Helge Olesen, at the 14th conference in 2011.

The initiative is managed by a steering committee.

Workshops and conferences

One central activity of the initiative is a series of workshops and conferences.

Information on each of the meetings since 1992 is available through the overview page:
       Previous Harmonisation conferences: Information and proceedings

Information is provided on availability of conference papers in various forms (extended abstract, PowerPoint presentations, and journal papers). For all conferences since 2000, extended abstracts etc. are freely available on-line .

Furthermore, full-length versions of papers from the conferences have been published in Special issues of the International Journal of Environment and Pollution.

"Model Validation Kit"

A central activity of the "Harmonisation" initiative, closely related to the conferences, is the distribution of the so-called Model Validation Kit.

The Model Validation Kit is intended to be used for evaluation of atmospheric dispersion models.
It is a collection of four field data sets as well as software for model evaluation. The Kit is a practical tool intended to serve as a common frame of reference for model performance evaluation.

It addresses the classic problem of dispersion from a single point source.

During the series of Harmonisation conferences, many papers have referred to the Kit. The package was updated to Version 2.0 in October 2005.

 An extensive set of web pages provide details on the contents of the Model Validation Kit and allows it to be downloaded.

An ASTM standard guide on model evaluation was published in November 2000. It represents an alternative approach to that of the Model Validation Kit. More info...

Activities related to the initiative. Tools for dispersion modelling.

You will find an annotated list of activities and tools which are somehow related to the initiative (e.g. the wiki on Atmospheric Dispersion Modelling, the e-mail discussion list Atmospheric Dispersion, the Model Documentation System, FAIRMODE, various COST actions, the web site Datasets for Atmospheric Modelling, a tool for model intercomparison etc. on a separate page:
      Related activities and tools

Also note that in a presentation for the 16th Harmonisation conference (September 2014) the chairman of the Harmonisation initiative, Helge Olesen, gave various practical advice on resources, which modellers can benefit from in their daily work>. These resources include Google Scholar, Wikipedia, LinkedIn, YouTube. See the paper: Web-based tools for air pollution modellers (pdf, 150 kB;

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This page is maintained by Helge Rørdam Olesen
It was last modified on December 4, 2018
The "Harmonisation..." web site is hosted by the Department of Environmental Science, Aarhus University (Denmark)