Air Quality Forecast by Statistical Methods: Application to Portugal and Macao

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Air pollution is a major concern issue for most countries in the world. In Portugal and Macao, the values of nitrogen dioxide (NO2), particulate matter (PM) and ozone (O3) are frequently above the concentration thresholds accepted as “good air quality.” Portugal follows the European Union (EU) legislation (Directive 2008/50/EC) on air quality and Macao the air quality guidelines (AQG) from the WHO. Air quality forecasts are very important mitigation tools because of their ability to anticipate pollution events, and issue early warnings, allowing to take preventive measures and reduce impacts, by avoiding exposure. The work presented here refers to the statistical forecast of air pollutants for three regions: Greater Lisbon Area, Madeira Autonomous Region (both located in Portugal), and Macao Special Administrative Region (in Southern China). The presented statistical approach combines Classification and Regression Tree (CART) and multiple regression (MR) analysis to obtain optimized regression models. This consolidated methodology is now in operation for more than a decade in Portugal, and is subject to regular updates that reflect the ongoing research and the changes in the air quality monitoring network. Recently, the same methodology was applied to Macao in collaboration with the Macao Meteorological and Geophysical Bureau (SMG). Here, a statistical approach for air quality forecasting is described that has been proven to be successful, being able to forecast PM10, PM2.5, NO2, and O3 concentrations, for the next day, with a good performance. In general, all the models have shown a good agreement between the observed and forecasted concentrations (with R2 from 0.50 to 0.89), and were able to follow the concentration evolution trend. For some cases, there is a slight delay in the prediction trend. Moreover, the results obtained for pollution episodes have proven that statistical forecast can be an effective way of protecting public health.

Original languageEnglish
Article number826517
Pages (from-to)1-17
Number of pages17
JournalFrontiers in Big Data
Publication statusPublished - 10 Mar 2022


  • air quality
  • classification and regression trees
  • multiple regression
  • nitrogen dioxide
  • ozone
  • particulate matter


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