An elevated reservoir of air pollutants over the Mid-Atlantic States during the 2011 DISCOVER-AQ campaign: Airborne measurements and numerical simulations

Hao He, Christopher P. Loughner, Jeffrey W. Stehr, Heather L. Arkinson, Lacey C. Brent, Melanie B. Follette-Cook, Maria A. Tzortziou, Kenneth E. Pickering, Anne M. Thompson, Douglas K. Martins, Glenn S. Diskin, Bruce E. Anderson, James H. Crawford, Andrew J. Weinheimer, Pius Lee, Jennifer C. Hains, Russell R. Dickerson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations

Abstract

During a classic heat wave with record high temperatures and poor air quality from July 18 to 23, 2011, an elevated reservoir of air pollutants was observed over and downwind of Baltimore, MD, with relatively clean conditions near the surface. Aircraft and ozonesonde measurements detected ~120ppbv ozone at 800m altitude, but ~80ppbv ozone near the surface. High concentrations of other pollutants were also observed around the ozone peak: ~300ppbv CO at 1200m, ~2ppbv NO2 at 800m, ~5ppbv SO2 at 600m, and strong aerosol optical scattering (2×10-4m-1) at 600m. These results suggest that the elevated reservoir is a mixture of automobile exhaust (high concentrations of O3, CO, and NO2) and power plant emissions (high SO2 and aerosols). Back trajectory calculations show a local stagnation event before the formation of this elevated reservoir. Forward trajectories suggest an influence on downwind air quality, supported by surface ozone observations on the next day over the downwind PA, NJ and NY area. Meteorological observations from aircraft and ozonesondes show a dramatic veering of wind direction from south to north within the lowest 5000m, implying that the development of the elevated reservoir was caused in part by the Chesapeake Bay breeze. Based on in situ observations, CMAQ forecast simulations with 12km resolution overestimated surface ozone concentrations and failed to predict this elevated reservoir; however, CMAQ research simulations with 4km and 1.33km resolution more successfully reproduced this event. These results show that high resolution is essential for resolving coastal effects and predicting air quality for cities near major bodies of water such as Baltimore on the Chesapeake Bay and downwind areas in the Northeast.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)18-30
Number of pages13
JournalAtmospheric Environment
Volume85
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 2013

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Environmental Science(all)
  • Atmospheric Science

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