Unique CLAIRO project (not only) of Opava physicists helps to improve the environment

  • Lucie Dospivová
  • 27.10.2021
One of the areas on which the Institute of Physics in Opava focuses both in its study offer and scientific activities is environmental monitoring. As part of this activity, the Institute has been involved in the unique European project CLAIRO since 2018. A part of the project includes greenery that is capable of capturing air pollutants, especially dust particles for a long period of time. As a result, this vegetation could be an important natural filter for polluted air in the future.

Silesian University in Opava, which includes the Institute of Physics, is one of the main researchers of the CLAIRO project (CLean AIR and climate adaptation in Ostrava and Other cities), which is held by the Municipality of Ostrava. The goal of the project is to systematically reduce air pollution by planting suitable greenery with proven ability to absorb air pollutants from various sources. The main task is to find the best mechanisms for the systematic reduction of air pollution through a comprehensive design of urban greenery planting and subsequent transfer of know-how to other entities in the Czech Republic and Europe.

Vegetation as an air cleaner

Air pollution is one of the worst environmental problem not only in the Moravian-Silesian Region. Innovative solution offers the project CLAIRO. It is a research project based on the idea of planting greenery to maximize the absorption of air pollutants. We seek to find the best mechanisms for systematically reducing air pollution through comprehensive planning and planting of urban greenery.” describes doc. Miloš Zapletal from the Institute of Physics in Opava who is involved in the development of innovative models for the capture of air pollutants by urban greenery using the information about the pollution and meteorological data. Part of the research includes the creation of an accessible online database of plants with higher air pollutant trapping capacity. From the proposed database, other interested parties will then be able to learn what vegetation and planting practices to use in an effort to improve the environment.

How does it all work?

Taking into account the measured concentrations of suspended particles PM10, ozone, nitrogen oxides, meteorological parameters and soil chemical analyses, the composition and structure of green spaces in the selected locations of Bartovice and Radvanice were proposed. Measurements of pollutant concentrations before and after planting of vegetation are carried out by the staff of VŠB TU Ostrava.” describes Zapletal. He adds that the data is sent to a central station at VŠB-TU Ostrava and immediately stored in a database. “Our intent was to design a multi-level stand of trees that would maximize the capture of dust particles, ozone, and nitrogen oxides from the air. We used both grown trees with a formed canopy and multi-stemmed trees with branches from the ground supplemented by a shrub floor. For different tree species in the communities, we model and assess the capture of dust particles, ozone and nitrogen oxides based on measured concentrations of these pollutants in the air and measured meteorological elements. The planted greenery is subsequently treated with special waterings prepared by the staff of Palacký University in Olomouc, which strengthen the resistance of this vegetation." adds Zapletal.

The main objectives of the CLAIRO project and their interrelationship. Source CLAIRO project website. The main objectives of the CLAIRO project and their interrelationship. Source CLAIRO project website.

The project has already passed the preparatory stages and is now undergoing testing. If the positive impact of the planted greenery on air quality is confirmed by measurements, then in the last step, the procedure will be applied to other areas within the Moravian-Silesian Region. The knowledge and experience gained during the project is and will be transferred, for example, in the training of experts and representatives of cities not only in our country but also in Europe. This phase started this year.

The first swallows

During April 2021, a total of 442 trees, 1,867 shrubs and 14,700 m² of lawn were planted in Ostrava, specifically in Radvanice and Bartovice, on the area reclaimed from the former ash storage site. The sites for planting were selected under the expert supervision of scientists, with the aim of including sites that are not only burdened by heavy air pollution but also with different soil characteristics in order to monitor the resistance of the plants to external factors. Scientists treated the greenery with a product containing biostimulants, anti-stress agents and seaweed extracts that should make the vegetation more resistant to air pollutants. Data collection and subsequent analysis is already ongoing. The interim results of the project were presented by doc. Zapletal at the international conference "Air Pollution Threats to Plant Ecosystems" in Paphos, Cyprus, 11-15 October 2021.

Planting sites in Radvanice and Bartovice (August 2021). Source: CLAIRO project website. Planting sites in Radvanice and Bartovice (August 2021). Source: CLAIRO project website.

CLAIRO in data and figures

Clairo is a research project carried out by a team of experts from several institutions and entities. Specifically, the Silesian University in Opava (including the Institute of Physics), VSB - Technical University in Ostrava, Palacký University in Olomouc. The project is carried out by the Statutory City of Ostrava. The project collaborators Moravian-Silesian Region, SOBIC organization and Regional Association of Territorial Cooperation Těšín Silesia. The total budget of the CLAIRO project is approximately CZK 65 million, the subsidy from European funds amounts to CZK 52.7 million. The total cost of the planting, including the subsequent 5-year care, is CZK 5.9 million. CZK incl. VAT, of which 80% of the EU subsidy from eligible costs amounts to approx. CZK 3.76 million.  The project has been running since 2018 and will end in 2022.

doc. Ing. Milos Zapletal, Dr.
Main coordinatior of the projekt CLAIRO at the Institute of Physics in Opava
Email: milos.zapletal@physisc.slu.cz
Telefon: +420 737 067 897

Bc. Petr Horalek
PR coordinator of the Europeian Union projects at the Institute of Physics in Opava
Email: petr.horalek@slu.cz
Telefon: +420 732 826 853

Mgr. Debora Lancova

Institute of physics in Opava
Email: debora.lancova@physics.slu.cz
Telefon: +420 776 072 756