A Bad Air Day in Houston
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A case study from the Texas Air Quality Study 2000 field campaign illustrates the complex interaction of meteorological and chemical processes that produced a high-pollution event in the Houston area on 30 August 2000. High 1-h ozone concentrations of nearly 200 ppb were measured near the surface, and vertical profile data from an airborne differential-absorption lidar (DIAL) system showed that these high-ozone concentrations penetrated to heights approaching 2 km into the atmospheric boundary layer. This deep layer of pollution was transported over the surrounding countryside at night, where it then mixed out the next day to become part of the rural background levels. These background levels thus increased during the course of the multiday pollution episode. The case study illustrates many processes that numerical forecast models must faithfully represent to produce accurate quantitative predictions of peak pollutant concentrations in coastal locations such as Houston. Such accurate predictions will be required for useful air-quality forecasts for urban areas.
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