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Published July 28, 2008 09:18 AM

Chinese Take 50% Of All Cars Off Beijing Roads To Improve Air Quality For Olympics

Scientists will study this for years to come; China has ordered 50% of all cars off the roads off Beijing to make sure air quality is okay for the upcoming Olympics. The measures might be perhaps the world's most measurable traffic pollution reduction effort ever. What's more, they've launched an airquality forecast tool online.

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The main source of air pollution in the Chinese capital is vehicle traffic and that's why the city has imposed its restrictions on car traffic. The curfew began on July 20 and will likely result in the removal of 1.8 million of vehicles off the road until 20 September. All cars with high emissions are banned and regular private cars are only allowed on the road on alternative days.

In addition to taking half of the cars off the road, the authorities installed a device monitoring the effectiveness of the reduced traffic to the quality of the air. The monitoring tool, a High Resolution Air Quality Forecasting System, that provides real time analysis of the effects of the reduced traffic has been developed by Cambridge Environmental Research Consultants (CERC). "We believe the detailed air quality forecast it provides will prove a valuable tool in predicting and understanding Beijing's Air quality," David Carruthers from CERC says, adding that "the system is highly flexible and can be adjusted rapidly; for example to take account of the special emission reduction actions being implemented during July until after the Games."

Poor air quality of course impedes athletes' performances and that's why the measures have been taken. CERC and the Chinese authorities started to jointly generate operational street scale air quality forecasts for Beijing since 8 July - exactly one month before the Games' opening ceremony.

They publish their three-day forecasts on the Beijing Air Quality website. The forecasts are high-resolution pollution contour maps that predict levels of nitrogen dioxide, ozone, particles and sulphur dioxide for each of Beijing's eight districts. Check it out!

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