University of Oulu

Hulkkonen, M., Kaaronen, R.O., Kokkola, H. et al. Modeling non-linear changes in an urban setting: From pro-environmental affordances to responses in behavior, emissions and air quality. Ambio 52, 976–994 (2023).

Modeling non-linear changes in an urban setting : from pro-environmental affordances to responses in behavior, emissions and air quality

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Author: Hulkkonen, Mira1; Kaaronen, Roope O.2; Kokkola, Harri3;
Organizations: 1Nano and Molecular Systems Research Unit, University of Oulu, P.O. BOX 8000, 90014, Oulu, Finland
2Past Present Sustainability Research Unit, Faculty of Biological and Environmental Sciences, Helsinki Institute of Sustainability Science, University of Helsinki, Viikinkaari 1, P.O. BOX 65, 00014, Helsinki, Finland
3Atmospheric Research Centre of Eastern Finland, Finnish Meteorological Institute, 70211, Kuopio, Finland
4Faculty of Science, Institute for Atmospheric and Earth System Research (INAR), University of Helsinki, 00101, Helsinki, Finland
5Atmospheric Composition Research Unit, Finnish Meteorological Institute, 00101, Helsinki, Finland
6Helsinki Region Environmental Services Authority (HSY), 00066, Helsinki, Finland
Format: article
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 1.4 MB)
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Language: English
Published: Springer Nature, 2023
Publish Date: 2023-11-03


Interactions in urban environment were investigated using a multidisciplinary model combination, with focus on traffic, emissions and atmospheric particles. An agent-based model was applied to simulate the evolution of unsustainable human behavior (usage of combustion-based personal vehicles) as a function of pro-environmental affordances (opportunities for sustainable choices). Scenarios regarding changes in multi-pollutant emissions were derived, and the non-linear implications to atmospheric particles were simulated with a box model. Based on the results for a Nordic city, increasing pro-environmental affordances by 10%, 50% or 100% leads to emission reductions of 15%, 30% and 40% within 2 years. To reduce ambient particle mass, emissions from traffic should decrease by > 15%, while the lung deposited surface area decreases in all scenarios (–23%, –32%and –36%, correspondingly). The presented case is representative of one season, but the approach is generic and applicable to simulating a full year, given meteorological and pollution data that reflects seasonal variation. This work emphasizes the necessity to consider feedback mechanisms and non-linearities in both human behavior and atmospheric processes, when predicting the outcomes of changes in an urban system.

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Series: Ambio. A journal of the human environment
ISSN: 0044-7447
ISSN-E: 1654-7209
ISSN-L: 0044-7447
Volume: 52
Issue: 5
Pages: 976 - 994
DOI: 10.1007/s13280-022-01827-8
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 1172 Environmental sciences
Funding: This work was supported by the Academy of Finland Grant No. 335562. RK acknowledges funding by the Academy of Finland (grant No. 338558) and Helsinki Institute of Sustainability Science (HELSUS postdoctoral grant). Open Access funding provided by University of Oulu including Oulu University Hospital.
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