Dr James Levine MSci MA PhD

Dr James Levine

School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences
Senior Research Fellow

Contact details

School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences
University of Birmingham
B15 2TT

Dr James Levine’s focus is on air quality, spanning the conventional boundary between natural and built environments. His background is predominantly in atmospheric science, developing numerical models of atmospheric chemistry and transport for innovative applications. However, drawing on experience of architectural practice (qualified to RIBA Part I), James increasingly couples software innovation with knowledge-exchange activities with urban practitioners: i.e., co-design with target end users.

James led the development of the open-source Green Infrastructure for Roadside Air Quality (GI4RAQ) Platform: the first software enabling non-specialists to estimate quantitatively the site-dependent impacts of vegetation barriers on roadside exposure to vehicular pollution via changes in pollutant dispersion. He is now leading the development of a flexible multi-box model to simulate indoor air quality throughout buildings of any user-specified size and complexity – just one component of an Indoor Air Quality Emissions and Modelling System, led by Dr Christian Pfrang.

Meanwhile, James is Innovation Network Manager for the TRANSITION Clean Air Network: a UK-wide network funded under UKRI’s SPF Clean Air Programme to optimise the air quality and health benefits of transport decarbonisation. The network spans nine Universities, UKHSA and over 20 cross-sector partners, including: national and regional transport providers; developers of new vehicle technologies; advocates for public transport and active travel; and national, regional and local government representatives.

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  • BA (Hons) Architecture, University of Lincoln, 2016
  • PhD Atmospheric Science, University of Cambridge, 2007
  • MA University of Cambridge, 2004
  • MSci (Hons) Natural Sciences, University of Cambridge, 2002


Between the University of Cambridge, the British Antarctic Survey and the University of Birmingham, James has over 15 years’ experience developing numerical models (similar to weather prediction models) to explore a variety of influences on atmospheric composition, and chemistry-climate interactions.

An increasing interest in sustainable urban development led James to take a career-break, to complete a Batchelor’s degree in architecture and spend two years in architectural practice. Here, he saw first-hand the need for rigorous cost-benefit analysis of environmental ambitions at planning (and software solutions for practitioners to support this) to: maximise the benefits they can deliver; and increase their resilience to ‘value-engineering’ (cost-cutting) between planning and implementation.

On returning to academia, to bridge between research and practice, James has initially focussed on the influence of green infrastructure (and surrounding urban form) on local urban air quality. With three Innovation grants from the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC), he has developed the Green Infrastructure for Roadside Air Quality (GI4RAQ) Platform with colleagues at the Birmingham Institute of Forest Research, for which James is ‘Built Environment Ambassador’.

Scoped, co-designed and tested with project partners at Transport for London, the Greater London Authority, Birmingham City Council and AEA Ricardo, this quantitative, mechanistic software builds on: an earlier, qualitative but site-dependent approach to GI4RAQ James developed with Transport for London; and much simpler guidance he wrote for the Greater London Authority.

James is now using NERC Discipline Hopping funds to trial an integration of the code into Geographic Information Systems (GIS), of the sort used by city-region planners and community forests to map and prioritise investment in green infrastructure. The intention is to extend the scope of GI4RAQ exploration, from ‘what impact would this intervention have here?’ to ‘where would an intervention of this sort deliver the greatest benefits to those who need them most?’.

James is also extending his interests in air quality simulation from outdoors to indoors. As part of an Indoor Air Quality Emissions and Modelling System project led by Dr Christian Pfrang, James is leading the development of a model to simulate air quality throughout buildings, capable of resolving differences between rooms linked to their design, use, occupancy and ventilation – a nice link back to his architectural interests.


  • Atmospheric chemistry and transport - focussing on urban air quality
  • Ecosystem services - quantifiable and equitable benefits from green infrastructure
  • Software innovation - coupled with knowledge mobilisation and exchange




Penn, A. S., S. E. Bartington, S. J. Moller, I. Hamilton, J. G. Levine, K. Hatcher, and N. Gilbert, Adopting a Whole Systems Approach to Transport Decarbonisation, Air Quality and Health: An Online Participatory Systems Mapping Case Study in the UK, Atmosphere, 13, no. 3: 492. https://doi.org/10.3390/atmos13030492, 2022.

Pearce, H., J. G. Levine (joint first author), X. Cai, and A. R. MacKenzie, Introducing the Green Infrastructure for Roadside Air Quality (GI4RAQ) Platform: Estimating Site-Specific Changes in the Dispersion of Vehicular Pollution Close to Source, Forests, 12, no. 6: 769. https://doi.org/10.3390/f12060769, 2021.

Levine, J. G., Y. Brown, and A. R. MacKenzie, Green Infrastructure for Roadside Air Quality (GI4RAQ) Guidance & Decision Tree: An evidence-based approach to reducing roadside exposure to road transport pollution. Developed by the Birmingham Institute of Forest Research, University of Birmingham, and Transport for London. DOI: https://doi.org/10.25500/epapers.bham.00003398, 2021.

Ferranti, E. J. S., W. J. F. Acton, A. Lindop, M. Wolstoncroft, U. P. Han, J. G. Levine, A. R. MacKenzie, and N. Grayson, Urban design for air quality. Technical Report. University of Birmingham, DOI: https://doi.org/10.25500/epapers.bham.00003493, 2021.

Greater London Authority, Using Green Infrastructure to Protect People from Air Pollution, written in consultation with the Birmingham Institute of Forest Research, University of Birmingham, Global Centre for Clean Air Research, University of Surrey, and Transport for London, published online (https://www.london.gov.uk/WHAT-WE-DO/environment/environment-publications/using-green-infrastructure-protect-people-air-pollution), 2019.

Levine, J. G., and E. J. S. Ferranti, Why ‘Green’ Infrastructure is Critical for Improving Air Quality, Air Quality News, published online (https://airqualitynews.com/2019/10/04/why-green-infrastructure-is-critical-for-improving-air-quality/2019.

Ferranti, E. J. S., J. G. Levine, and A. R. MacKenzie, Right Tree, Right Place: Role of Trees and Other Green Infrastructure in Urban Air Quality, Institution of Environmental Sciences, published online (https://www.the-ies.org/analysis/role-trees-and-other-green2019.

Ferranti, E. J. S., A. R. MacKenzie, J. G. Levine, K. Ashworth, and C. N. Hewitt, First Steps in Air Quality for Built Environment Practitioners, guidance produced by the University of Birmingham and the Trees and Design Action Group, published online (http://epapers.bham.ac.uk/3069/), 2019.

Fawole, O. G., X. Cai, J. G. Levine, R. T. Pinker, and A. R. MacKenzie, Detection of a gas flaring signature in the AERONET optical properties of aerosols at a tropical station in West Africa, J. Geophys. Res., doi:10.1002/2016JD0255842016.

Kourtchev, I., R. Godoi, S. Connors, J. Levine, A. Archibald, A. Godoi, S. Paralovo, C. Barbosa, R. A. Souza, A. Manzi, R. Seco, S. Sjostedt, J.-H. Park, A. Guenther, S. Kim, J. Smith, S. Martin, and M. Kalberer, Molecular composition of organic aerosols in central Amazonia: an ultra-high resolution mass spectrometry study, Atmos. Chem. Phys., doi:10.5194/acp-2016-4042016.

Levine, J. G., A. R. MacKenzie, O. J. Squire, A. T. Archibald, P. T. Griffiths, N. L. Abraham, J. A. Pyle, D. E. Oram, G. Forster, J. F. Brito, J. D. Lee, J. R. Hopkins, A. C. Lewis, S. J. B. Bauguitte, C. F. Demarco, P. Artaxo, P. Messina, J. Lathière, D. A. Hauglustaine, E. House, C. N. Hewitt, and E. Nemitz, Isoprene chemistry in pristine and polluted Amazon environments: Eulerian and Lagrangian model frameworks and the strong bearing they have on our understanding of surface ozone and predictions of rainforest exposure to this priority pollutant, Atm. Chem. Phys. Discuss., 15doi:10.5194/acpd-15-24251-20152015.

Quiquet, A., A. T. Archibald, A. D. Friend, J. Chappelaz, J. G. Levine, E. J. Stone, P. J. Telford, and J. A. Pyle, The relative importance of methane sources and sinks during the Last Interglacial period and into the last glaciation, Quat. Sci. Rev., 112doi:10.1016/j.quascirev.2015.01.0042015.

Levine, J. G., X. Yang, A. E. Jones, and E. W. Wolff, Sea salt as an ice core proxy for past sea ice extent: a process-based model study, J. Geophys. Res., doi:10.1002/2013JD0209252014.

Foley, A. M., D. Dalmonech, A. D. Friend, F. Aires, A. Archibald, P. Bartlein, L. Bopp, J. Chappellaz, P. Cox, N. R. Edwards, G. Feulner, P. Friedlingstein, S. P. Harrison, P. O. Hopcroft, C. D. Jones, J. Kolassa, J. G. Levine, I. C. Prentice, J. Pyle, N. Vázquez Riveiros, E. W. Wolff, and S. Zaehle, Evaluation of biospheric components in Earth system models using modern and palaeo observations: the state-of-the-art, Biogeosciences10doi:10.5194/bg-10-8305-20132013.

Levine, J. G., E. W. Wolff, P. O. Hopcroft, and P. J. Valdes, Controls on the tropospheric oxidizing capacity during an idealized Dansgaard-Oeschger event, and their implications for the rapid rises in atmospheric methane during the last glacial period, Geophys. Res. Lett.39, L12805, doi:10.1029/2012GL0518662012.

Levine, J. G., E. W. Wolff, A. E. Jones, L. C. Sime, P. J. Valdes, A. T. Archibald, G. D. Carver, N. J. Warwick, and J. A. Pyle, Reconciling the changes in atmospheric methane sources and sinks between the Last Glacial Maximum and the pre-industrial era, Geophys. Res. Lett., 38, 867 L23804, doi:10.1029/2011GL0495452011.

Archibald, A. T., J. G. Levine, N. L. Abraham, M. C. Cooke, P. M. Edwards, D. E. Heard, M. E. Jenkin, A. Karunaharan, R. C. Pike, P. S. Monks, D. E. Shallcross, P. J. Telford, L. K. Whalley, and J. A. Pyle, Impacts of HOx regeneration and recycling in the oxidation of isoprene: Consequences for the composition of past, present and future atmospheres, Geophys. Res. Lett., 38, L05804, doi:10.1029/2010GL0465202011.

Levine, J. G., E. W. Wolff, A. E. Jones, and L. C. Sime, The role of atomic chlorine in glacial‐interglacial changes in the carbon-13 content of atmospheric methane, Geophys. Res. Lett., 38, L04801, doi:10.1029/2010GL0461222011.

Levine, J. G., E. W. Wolff, A. E. Jones, M. A. Hutterli, O. Wild, G. D. Carver, and J. A. Pyle, In search of an ice core signal to differentiate between source‐driven and sink‐driven changes in atmospheric methane, J. Geophys. Res., 116, D05305, doi:10.1029/2010JD0148782011.

Levine, J. G., P. Braesicke, N. R. P. Harris, and J. A. Pyle, Seasonal and inter-annual variations in troposphere-to-stratosphere transport from the tropical tropopause layer, Atmos. Chem. Phys., 8doi:10.5194/acp-8-3689-20082008.

Levine, J. G., P. Braesicke, N. R. P. Harris, N. H. Savage, and J. A. Pyle, Pathways and timescales for troposphere-to-stratosphere transport via the tropical tropopause layer and their relevance for very short lived substances, J. Geophys. Res., 112, D04308, doi:10.1029/2005JD0069402007.

Cook, P. A., N. H. Savage, S. Turquety, G. D. Carver, F. M. O'Connor, A. Heckel, D. Stewart, L. K. Whalley, A. E. Parker, H. Schlager, H. B. Singh, M. A. Avery, G. W. Sachse, W. Brune, A. Richter, J. P. Burrows, R. Purvis, A. C. Lewis, C. E. Reeves, P. S. Monks, J. G. Levine, and J. A. Pyle, Forest fire plumes over the North Atlantic: p-TOMCAT model simulations with aircraft and satellite measurements from the ITOP/ICARTT Campaign, J. Geophys. Res., 112, D10S43, doi:10.1029/2006JD0075632007.

Braathen, G., N. Harris, and J. Levine(Eds), GMES-GATO, A European Strategy for Global Atmospheric Monitoring, Luxembourg: Office for Official Publications on the European Communities, EUR 21154, ISBN 92-894-4734-6, 2004.

Harris, N. R. P., G. T. Amanatidis, and J. G. Levine(Eds), Stratospheric Ozone 2002, Proceedings to the Sixth European Symposium, Luxembourg: Office for Official Publications on the European Communities, EUR 20650, ISBN 92-894-5484-92003.

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