Project highlights

  • Generation of a vehicle emission inventory with the highest possible spatiotemporal resolution
  • Real-world emission factors, obtained from the remote-sensing measurements, will be used to calibrate the inventory
  • Telematics data will provide driving behaviour within the inventory


Road traffic in Great Britain increased from 255 billion miles travelled in 1990 to 328 billion miles in 2018, an increase of 29%. In 2018, UK traffic-related sources contributed approximately 33% of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions and 31% of nitrogen oxides (NOx) emission, resulting in air pollution, global warming, and ecological deterioration. The variation in traffic emissions is significant in both the temporal and spatial dimensions making accurate modelling difficult.  Most current emissions inventories use speed-based emission factors (EFs), but the use of a wider range of driving characteristics, including driver behaviour, can generate more sophisticated models.

This project will generate a new behavior informed emissions inventory, which will allow for better informed urban and environmental policies.

Telematics is the use of telecommunications technologies to provide an on-line instantaneous position and movement of vehicles. Telematics data can provide highly detailed spatio-temporal statistics of vehicle movement characteristics, including vehicle speed and acceleration, which can be converted into behavioural and traffic characteristics including percentage time braking (PcTBr) and percentage time cruising (PcTCr). For example, the spatial distribution of PcTCr for a subsection of  Birmingham (Northfield) for Mondays at 9-11 am is shown in Figure 1. These big datasets can be merged with real-world measurements of the vehicle emissions from remote sensing systems to develop super detailed emissions inventories for chosen geographical areas. We will use a variety of remote sensing data sets to calibrate the new behaviour informed emissions inventory.


University of Birmingham


  • Climate and Environmental Sustainability
  • Dynamic Earth


Project investigator

  • Prof. Francis D. Pope, University of Birmingham



  • Dr. Omid Ghaffarpasand, University of Birmingham, Birmingham, UK


How to apply


This proposal will be run in three iterative steps which are:

  1. Pre-existing telematics (big) datasets, from the WM-Air project, will be employed to generate highly detailed driving behaviour maps and emissions characteristics for Birmingham.
  2. Remote sensing data from the EDAR deployments in Birmingham (Ghaffarpasand et al. 2020a) will be used to calibration the emission factors. This calibration will allow for detailed real-world emission factors for every component of the fleet.
  3. The implications of the derived emission factors will be explored with case studies on emissions reduction strategies for Birmingham, and beyond, including the introduction of Clean Air Zones, and the replacement of the fleet with electric vehicles.

Training and skills

The student will be provided with full training on the modelling packages with which to derive emission factors, including R, Matlab and Arc GIS Pro. The candidate will be encouraged to attend modules from atmospheric science related MSc courses at the University of Birmingham. They will be trained in an interdisciplinary environment both at the University of Birmingham, with colleagues whose interests span meteorology, climatology, atmospheric chemistry and air quality.  The student will benefit enormously from synergies between the studentship and the wider team including industrial and governance colleagues.


Partners and collaboration

The student will benefit from extensive links between the project and industrial partners, including Floow which provides the telematics data.  Excellent links between the supervisory team and Birmingham City Council and Transport for West Midlands will ensure the research has enduring impact.

Further details

Dr. Omid Ghaffarpasand ( and Prof. Francis Pope ( will be delighted to take informal questions about the project.

Applications need to be submitted via the University of Birmingham postgraduate portal,, by midnight 11.01.2021. Please first check whether the primary supervisor is within Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences, or in Biosciences, and click on the corresponding PhD program on the application page.

This application should include

  • a brief cover letter, CV, and the contact details for at least two referees
  • a CENTA application form
  • the supervisor and title of the project you are applying for under the Research Information section of the application form.

Referee’s will be invited to submit their references once you submit your application, but we strongly encourage applicants to ensure referees are aware of your submission and expecting a reference request from us. Students are also encouraged to visit and explore the additional information available on the CENTA website.

Possible timeline

Year 1

According to the triple steps of methodology (see the previous section), the project timeline is expected to be as follows:

Literature survey and review paper.  Exploring Telematics data and producing spatiotemporal maps of emission factors within the study area. The impact of fleet characteristics, terrain, meteorology and human behaviour will be considered here.

Year 2

Producing real-world vehicle emission factors. It is expected to run also some additional investigations on the produced dataset to expand the available science and knowledge of the real-world vehicle emission factors.

Year 3

Data analysis and interpretation. Implementation of field data into model. Discussions and analysis will be finalized here, and final outputs will be published.  Presentation of results at international conference e.g. AGU in San Francisco, USA. Thesis preparation and viva.

Further reading


DAVISON, J., et al. (2020) Distance-based emission factors from vehicle emission remote sensing measurements. Science of The Total Environment, 739, 139688.

DENG, F., et al. (2020) A big data approach to improving the vehicle emission inventory in China. Nature Communications, 11 (1), 2801.

GHAFFARPASAND, O., et al. (2020a) Real-world assessment of vehicle air pollutant emissions subset by vehicle type, fuel and EURO class: New findings from the recent UK EDAR field campaigns, and implications for emissions restricted zones. Science of The Total Environment, 734, 139416.

GHAFFARPASAND, O., et al. (2020b) A high-resolution spatial and temporal on-road vehicle emission inventory in an Iranian metropolitan area, Isfahan, based on detailed hourly traffic data. Atmospheric Pollution Research, 11 (9), 1598-1609.


This proposal is designed to generate high resolution emission factors for the UK urban environments. The modelling and associated calculations can be achieved predominatly via desktop study. So the project can carried out remotely, if required, with just access to laptop and wifi.  The use of TEAMs and Zoom meetings allows for effective group interactions, including weekly Pope group meetings and presentations, so full inclusion into group activities is possible even under future lockdown possibilities.