The characterization of regional ozone transport
Among the most ubiquitous and persistent air quality problems facing urban areas are high concentrations of gas phase oxidants and fine particulate matter. Ozone and particulate matter concentrations in urban areas are significantly influenced by other factors in addition to local emissions, such as regional transport spanning distances as large as 1000 kilometers. Despite the importance of regional transport in meeting air quality standards, to date most analyses of regional transport have focused only on short duration episodes, or semi-quantitative assessments. The development and evaluation of seasonal, quantitative assessments of regional pollutant transport, based on modeling calculations and observational data is the topic of this dissertation. The observational data available through the Texas Air Quality Studies in 2000 and 2006 provide a unique opportunity to develop, evaluate, and improve methods for characterizing regional air pollutant transport. Measurements collected during these studies are used as the primary observational basis for characterizing regional ozone transport and to evaluate the performance of photochemical models. Results suggest that measurements (from aircraft and surface monitors) and the photochemical model provide consistent estimates of the magnitude of ozone transport. On this basis, photochemical modeling is used to determine potential impacts of regional ozone transport in Texas, under varying meteorological and photochemical conditions, as well as to characterize the dominant chemical and physical processes within urban plumes. While qualitative studies and limited quantitative analyses have been performed to assess regional ozone transport, this work includes the first detailed quantitative characterization of the importance of ozone transport over the course of an entire ozone season using both photochemical modeling and ambient data. Results demonstrate that urban plumes in Texas are capable of transporting significant amounts of ozone over distances spanning hundreds of kilometers. Furthermore, on a seasonal basis, there are a number of days characterized by high contributions from inter-city transport coinciding with high total ozone concentrations, suggesting that the role of inter-city transport will remain significant for many areas to demonstrate attainment of the NAAQS for ozone. Results also indicate that reductions in the impacts of inter-city transport are possible by decreases in emissions from source regions.