That's why ozone intrusions are on the minds of air quality managers like Patrick Reddy, lead forecast meteorologist at Colorado's Department of Public Health and Environment in Denver, Colo. Reddy co-leads the EPA Stratospheric Intrusion Work Group, tasked to identify ozone intrusion events and collect input for improved analysis.
The state of Colorado flagged the concentrations associated with the April 6 event as possibly exceeding the EPA's allowable threshold. Now it's up to Reddy and colleagues to determine if the intrusion on April 6 is a viable candidate for the preparation of documentation to be classified as an exceptional event.
"We need to use the best science that we can to demonstrate conclusively that 'but for' this intrusion there would not have been an exceedence," Reddy said.
Reddy says it's fairly obvious when a stratospheric ozone intrusion has occurred, based on signatures in satellite data, air quality monitoring stations and meteorological data. For example, low water vapor, wind and high ozone at remote locations are often characteristic of stratospheric air.
Evidence of the intrusions, however, doesn't show up in the models currently used by air quality managers. Many of those models assume ozone moves from the stratosphere to the troposphere at a constant, average rate. This fails to capture the episodic intrusion events.
Meiyun Lin, an atmospheric scientist at Princeton University and NOAA's Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory (GFDL) in Princeton, New Jersey, set out to better quantify the impact of stratospheric ozone intrusions. Lin and colleagues used satellite and meteorological observations alongside a global chemistry-climate model to simulate intrusions in high-resolution.
Like the pixels in a photograph, the
|Contact: Kathryn Hansen|
NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center