Victor Hugo Valencia Alvear


Victor Hugo Valencia Alvear


PhD project: How does densification versus urban sprawl affect air pollution in Quito, Ecuador
University: Aarhus University
Department: Environmental Science
Supervisor: Matthias Ketzel (Department of Environmental Science - Atmospheric modeling) 
Co-supervisors: Gregor Levin, Ole Hertel
Project term: march 2018 – march 2021
Master’s degree: MSc in Environmental Studies, Del Valle de Guatemala University, Guatemala. MSc in Geographic Information Systems, Polytechnic University of Catalunya, Spain

Air pollution, particularly originating from traffic, appears to be one of the major environmental challenges in urban areas. The aim of this project is to determine the effect of urban areas growth on air pollution in Quito, the capital of Ecuador. Two extreme urban growth scenarios are proposed, and their air pollutants concentration will be determined. The key features of these scenarios are the change in the urban spatial pattern (blocks, building heights) and street network configuration (roads, vehicles, fuel, etc.) because the change in these variables affect the production and dispersion of urban air pollution. The first scenario corresponds to the current type of urban growth (sprawling) developed in a limit situation. The second scenario corresponds to a change of the urban structure by increasing the building heights (densification growth). This research requires the spatial modelling of the urban spatial patterns, air pollution and street network configuration for both scenarios.

The aim of this project is to determine the effect on air pollution of two possible ways of urban development, densification versus urban sprawl, in Quito, the capital of Ecuador.

The UBM model has been selected to estimate the urban background air pollution in Quito, which has been tested to years 2008, 2009 and 2010 with satisfactory results. Next step is to develop the scenarios of analysis. For modelling the sprawling development scenario, the cellular automata modelling software LUCIA is being tested.  The densification scenario will be develop based on the current urban plan of the city. The change in the traffic configuration must be determine. Then, the UBM model will be applied and the outputs will be spatially analyzed.


  • Air pollution monitoring network, Municipality of Quito, Ecuador
  • External research partners

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