Exploring air quality data in the UK and New Zealand

airQual: exploration of air quality data

Poor air quality is well known to have both chronic (long term) and acute (short term) impacts on health. Air quality is also a useful indicator of traffic and other combustion patterns - i.e. energy use for different purposes at different times of day.

Southampton (UK)

Covid 19 lockdown analysis (Spring 2020)

We update this mini-report on a regular basis. These are the most recent plots for:

Snapshot 18/6/2020 of the above analysis for BBC South.

Snapshot 30/4/2020 of the above analysis, some of which was used in response to a DEFRA call for evidence.

General explorations


Southampton homes tend to rely on reticulated (mains) gas, electricity and in some areas, district heating. However gas boilers, woodburners and (relatively rare) coal fires are known sources of pollutants so heating systems may also be a contributor to poor air quality in Southampton alongside fossil-fuel based transport.

Data sources:

NB: The AURN data undergoes a processes of ratification with a lag of about 6 months. Data less than 6 months old will not have undergone this process.

AURN data is (c) Crown 2020 copyright Defra via, licenced under the Open Government Licence (OGL).


New Zealand


In contrast to Southampton, New Zealand homes use a mixture of solid (coal/wood), electric (fueled by hydro/coal/gas/geothermal/wind) and reticulated (mains) / bottled gas heating. The prevalance of solid fuels, especially in regions which suffer winter temperature inversions is a particular problem.

As a result, switching to low emissions forms of heating (electric) and/or increasing insluation (or building to Passive house standards) will both reduce GHG emissions and improve air quality. As a consequence health impacts and costs are reduced - an excellent example of the co-benefits of de-carbonising heat. Rather than non-energy energy policy, we therefore have non-health health policy…

Of course, as elsewhere, fossil-fuel based transport is also a major contributor to poor air quality.


Southampton and Dunedin have much in common:

How does their air quality compare?