Characterizing sources of high surface ozone events in the southwestern U.S. with intensive field measurements and two global models Journal Article uri icon



  • Abstract. The detection and attribution of high background ozone (O3) events in the southwestern U.S. is challenging but relevant to the effective implementation of the lowered National Ambient Air Quality Standard (NAAQS; 70 ppbv). Here we leverage intensive field measurements from the Fires, Asian, and Stratospheric TransportLas Vegas Ozone Study (FAST-LVOS) in MayJune 2017, alongside high-resolution simulations with two global models (GFDL-AM4 and GEOS-Chem), to pinpoint the sources of O3 during high-O3 events. We show stratospheric influence on four out of the ten events with daily maximum 8-hour average (MDA8) surface O3 above 65 ppbv in the greater Las Vegas region. While O3 produced from regional anthropogenic emissions dominates pollution in the Las Vegas Valley, stratospheric intrusions can mix with regional pollution to push surface O3 above 70 ppbv. GFDL-AM4 captures the key characteristics of deep stratospheric intrusions consistent with ozonesondes, lidar profiles, and co-located measurements of O3, CO, and water vapor at Angel Peak, whereas GEOS-Chem has difficulty simulating the observed features and underestimates observed O3 by ~ 20 ppbv at the surface. The two models also differ substantially during a wildfire event, with GEOS-Chem estimating ~ 15 ppbv greater O3, in better agreement with lidar observations. At the surface, the two models bracket the observed MDA8 O3 values during the wildfire event. Both models capture the large-scale transport of Asian pollution, but neither resolves some fine-scale pollution plumes, as evidenced from aerosol backscatter, aircraft, and satellite measurements. U.S. background O3 estimates from the two models differ by 5 ppbv on average and up to 15 ppbv episodically. Our multi-model approach tied closely to observational analysis yields process insights, suggesting that elevated background O3 may pose challenges to achieving a potentially lower NAAQS level (e.g., 65 ppbv) in the southwestern U.S.;

publication date

  • December 3, 2019

has restriction

  • green

Date in CU Experts

  • November 15, 2020 2:32 AM

Full Author List

  • Zhang L; Lin M; Langford AO; Horowitz LW; Senff CJ; Klovenski E; Wang Y; Alvarez II RJ; Petropavlovskikh I; Cullis P

author count

  • 17

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