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Meteorologically-adjusted urban air quality trends in the southwestern United States | CLIMAS

Meteorologically-adjusted urban air quality trends in the southwestern United States

TitleMeteorologically-adjusted urban air quality trends in the southwestern United States
Publication TypeArticles
Year of Publication2005
AuthorsWise, E, Comrie, AC
JournalAtmospheric Environment

Cities in the Southwestern United States (Southwest) are often close to violating tropospheric ozone (ozone) and particulate matter (PM) federal air quality standards, and local climate and weather conditions play a large part in determining whether or not pollutant levels exceed the federally mandated limits and by what magnitude. The Kolmogorov-Zurbenko (KZ) filter method has been used in a number of studies in the Eastern United States to determine meteorological controls on ozone concentrations and to separate out those effects in order to examine underlying trends. The Southwest, however, experiences a different climate regime than other parts of the country, and atmospheric controls on air quality in the region have not been examined in this manner. This paper determines which meteorological variables most influence ozone and PM in the Southwest and examines patterns of underlying pollutant trends due to emissions. Ozone and PM data were analyzed over the time period 1990-2003 for the Southwest's five major metropolitan areas: Albuquerque, NM; El Paso, TX; Las Vegas, NV; Phoenix, AZ; and Tucson, AZ. Results indicate that temperature and mixing height most strongly influence ozone conditions, while moisture levels (particularly relative humidity) are the strongest predictors of PM concentrations in all five cities examined. Meteorological variability typically accounts for 40-70% of ozone variability and 20-50% of PM variability. Long-term ozone trends are highly variable, but records from most stations indicate increasing concentrations over the last decade. Long-term trends in PM concentrations were relatively flat in all five cities analyzed but contained coincident extremes unrelated to meteorology.