Earth Sciences


The Earth Sciences Department was established with the objective of carrying out research in Earth system modelling, initially focusing on atmospheric physics and chemistry. The group directed by Dr. José María Baldasano, coming from the Environmental Modelling Laboratory of the Technical University of Catalonia (LMA-UPC) has as main topics of research: air quality modelling, mineral dust modelling, atmospherical modelling and global and regional climate modelling.


Baldasano, José María


Changes in the composition of the atmosphere can affect the habitability of the planet by modifying the air quality and altering long-term climate. Research in this area is devoted to the development, implementation and refinement of global and regional state-of-the-art models for short-term air quality forecasting and long-term climate predictions.

Issues related to atmospheric dynamics, natural and anthropogenic emissions, improvement of air quality forecasts, the transport and dispersion of pollutants in complex terrain, urban air quality, aerosol optical properties, aerosol radiative effects and the feedback between meteorology and air pollution shapes the research agenda of the group. Together with the advances in the parallelization of air quality model codes, have allowed such high-resolution simulations.

The high performance capabilities of supercomputation allows to increase the spatial and temporal resolution of atmospheric modelling systems, in order to improve our knowledge on dynamic patterns of air pollutants in complex terrains and interactions and feedbacks of physico-chemical processes occurring in the atmosphere.

The Earth Sciences Department also maintains daily operational air quality (CALIOPE) and mineral dust forecasts for scientific purposes and to support national initiatives for air quality prevention.

Research Lines: 

Air quality is a major environmental and health problem affecting developed and developing countries around the world. The main objective of the research line is the development and implementation of high resolution emission-meteorology-chemistry modelling systems to understand the physico-chemical processes taking place in the atmosphere.


The evolution of the atmosphere governs a large number of processes that may impact directly to our society as severe-weather situations leading to high rainfall rates or atmospheric conditions that contribute to modify the air quality. The main focus of the research line is the improvement of the skills of mesoscale meteorological models for a deeper understanding of the mesoscale phenomena occurring in the atmosphere, with special attention to the boundary layer processes.




A large portion of atmospheric particulate matter is derived from desert and arid regions of the Earth and is distributed all over the globe. The most prominent example of this transport is the export of mineral dust from the Saharan desert. The main focus of this research line is to understand and model the atmospheric mineral dust cycle in order to assess and predict its impacts on air quality and climate.



The horizontal resolution of coupled Global Circulation Models (GCM) is still too coarse to capture the effects of local and regional forcings in complex areas. The main focus of this research line is the development and testing of regional climate downscaling models for the generation of high-resolution regional climate information from coarse-resolution GCM simulations.





Baldasano JM. Dust modelling and forecasting in the Barcelona Supercomputing Center: Activities and developments. ADEPT Kick-off Meeting, Institut de Ciències del Mar, CMIMA (CSIC). 2012 .
Soret A, Baldasano JM. Emissions de GEH, previsions del Pla de l’Energia i Canvi Climàtic de Catalunya 2012-2020. Reunió Grup d’Experts en Canvi Climàtic a Catalunya (GECCC). 2012 .
Cuevas E, Boucher O, Baldasano JM, Schulz M, Terradellas E, Morcrette JJ. Air Quality Services.Europe and North Africa, Internatiol. Monitoring and Forecasting Dust Storms. In: The Growing uses of GMES across Europe's regions. The Growing uses of GMES across Europe's regions. Paris, France: NEREU and European Space Agency (ESA); 2012. pp. 114-115. Available from:
Baldasano JM. Inventario de emisiones GEI y Cambio Climático: Visión europea. Seminario “Tratamiento de Aguas Residuales en el contexto del Cambio Climático: Gases de efecto invernadero y Análisis de Ciclo de Vida”. 2012 .