Air Quality and Climate Variability

Project Dates

This project was designed to provide air quality managers and decision makers with better information on the climatic influences on air quality by involving them in the research process. In December 2002, an Air Quality and Climate Variability taskforce was assembled, consisting primarily of members from local, state, and federal environmental agencies. Their feedback on the research project was solicited and used to shape and focus the research goals in a direction that will provide them with the most useful information possible. Research goals included: 1) Determining which meteorological variables most influence ground-level ozone and particulate matter (PM) air quality concentrations in the southwestern United States; 2) Examining the underlying air quality trends that emerged once the effects of these variables had been removed from the time-series; and 3) Determining whether the meteorological variables that control ozone and PM in the Southwest are similar to the meteorological controls found in other parts of the United States.

An important component of the study was to determine how the discovery of these trends could be made useful for air quality planners and managers. For this reason, a number of air quality forums and workshops were held in order to better understand which issues needed to be addressed. Stakeholder needs included more information on PM–weather relationships, straight-forward graphics and interpretation of research results, and information that would help determine the probability of the Southwest experiencing a climate year that is conducive to high pollutant concentrations.