Big, Beautiful Sky: The State and Future of Texas' Air
We're all affected by air quality in Texas. Whether it's because of the concentration of pollutants in the air we breathe or whether it's because of our appreciation of beautiful Texas sunsets, we all have a stake in preserving air quality. This presentation will describe the air quality issues facing Texas, especially in Houston and Austin, and will describe what we know and what we need to know in order to preserve air quality in Texas. The two cities of Austin and Houston provide many insights into the formation of air pollution and how local and regional sources are both important contributing sources. A major source of air pollution in Texas, ozone, is not emitted directly but is the result of a chemical process involving a variety of emitted compounds and atmospheric conditions. Emission inventories help scientists, regulators, and the public understand what activities are the major sources of the emissions that eventually result in ozone and thus help us to identify what can be done to lower ozone levels. Many Texas cities will exceed future more stringent air quality standards. Scientists need to be able to model air pollution formation and understand not only atmospheric chemistry but also weather patterns and meteorology as factors such as wind patterns can have dramatic impacts on air quality in a given location in different years even if the emissions in the area and the region have remained the same. This talk will provide insights into the formation of air pollution, the importance of atmospheric chemistry and meteorology for air pollution levels, and how scientists model and understand what causes air pollution and what can be done about it.