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Project Partners

The Belgian Interregional Environment Agency (IRCEL-CELINE) is a permanent interregional cooperation between the Belgian Regions founded in 1994, involving collaboration on the management of the monitoring networks and enforcing a common scientific basis for collecting, processing and reporting air quality data. The agency is fully financed by the three Belgian regions and staff members are detached by the regional environmental institutes, Agence wallonne de l'Air et du Climat (AWAC) for Wallonia, the Flemish Environment Agency (VMM) for Flanders and Environment Brussels (BIM-IBGE) for the Brussels Capital Region.

Within this project, one or more regional institutes will provide the necessary co-financing. Among other tasks, the agency runs an interregional calibration laboratory, an interregional air quality database and an interregional data processing centre (IDPC). In the IDPC air quality data collected in the regional networks are acquired in “real-time”, evaluated and published online: Furthermore, IRCEL-CELINE informs the regional, the federal authorities and the public on and during episodes of enhanced air pollution (SMOG episodes), compiles the transmissions of all Belgian air quality and emission data to international platforms and it’s staff members are national experts in different European Air Quality expert groups.

For more than 20 years, the UV-Vis remote sensing team at BIRA has been investigating the chemical composition of the atmosphere using remote sensing observations from the ground and from space. The team focuses on improving the capabilities of the UV-Vis technique through instrumental and retrieval algorithm developments. Multi-axis DOAS instruments designed at BIRA are used for long term monitoring at several observation sites in Europe, China and Africa, as part of the Network for the Detection of Atmospheric Composition Change (NDACC). They are also regularly deployed in international field campaigns.

Next to its ground based activities, the team develops scientific retrieval algorithms for the European nadir UV-Vis sensors GOME, SCIAMACHY, GOME-2 and OMI, partly in support of the operational data centers at ESA/DLR and EUMETSAT/O3M-SAF. It is also involved in the preparation of future satellite sensors such as Sentinel 4 and 5, and more particularly Sentinel 5 Precursor, which was launched in 2016. In recent years, the team has initiated the development of new instrumentations. Several pioneering experiments have been conducted using aircrafts and ULMs. BIRA has also been involved in an EMPA-lead study on the demonstration of APEX for NO2 pollution mapping in Switzerland. The team routinely collaborates with institutions around the globe.


Urban air quality modelling, including modelling with high spatial resolution as proposed in this project, belongs to the core expertise of the VITO-RMA research team. The group consists of physicists, chemists, meteorologists and IT programmers. We develop and apply atmospheric dispersion models suitable for air quality assessments, scenario analyses and air quality forecasts. There are strong links with emission reduction measures and cost-efficiency of measures, but also with the health effects community, that widely makes use of the model results of VITO-RMA. Model developments are supported by a team of IT specialists with expertise in professional software development and with Geographical Information Systems.

Using our model results we offer expert advice and recommendations regarding urban air quality problems, often related to NO2 and/or fine particulate matter, e.g. to the City of Antwerp. For the regional level (i.e. Belgium) an intelligent interpolation tool (RIO) for mapping observations from the networks of the three Belgian regions has been developed, in close collaboration with IRCEL-CELINE. This interpolation tool proved to be the currently most reliable model for air quality assessments in Belgium. VITO-RMA carries out numerous projects in Belgium but works also on the international level, a.o. in several European research projects, for the European Space Agency and for several Chinese cities.


VITO-TAP is the largest unit of VITO and has a long lasting experience in Remote Sensing. VITO-TAP has a broad expertise ranging from sensor design and development, development and operations of processing chains both for satellite as well as airborne remote sensing data and the development of innovative applications based on all kinds of remote sensing data and geo-information.

More in particular VITO acted as co-principal investigator during the development of the APEX instrument and is in charge of the APEX operations as well as operational processing since 2011. Since then, APEX has acquired Terrabytes of data over various sites throughout Europe, which was consequently processed at VITO and successfully delivered to the end users.

The team involved in the project proposal has an extensive experience in operating APEX as well as the specific skills for managing and processing hyperspectral data.