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Baseline levels and trends of ground level ozone in Canada and the United States

by E. Chan, R. J. Vet
Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics ()

Abstract

A statistical method was developed to extract baseline levels of ground level ozone in Canada and the US, and to quantify the temporal changes of baseline ozone levels on annual, seasonal, diurnal and decadal scales for the period 1997 to 2006 based on ground-level observations from 97 non-urban monitoring sites. Baseline ozone is defined here as ozone measured at a given site in the absence of strong local influences. The quantification of baseline levels involved using a Principal Component Analyses (PCA) to derive groups of commonly-varying sites in contiguous regions by season, followed by using backward air parcel trajectories to systematically select ozone mixing ratios associated with the baseline condition in each of the PCA-derived regions. Decadal trends were estimated by season for each of the regions using a generalized linear mixed model (GLMM). Baseline ozone mixing ratios determined by this method were found to vary geographically and seasonally. For the 1997-2006 period, baseline mixing ratios were calculated for annual and seasonal periods in seven regions of North America based on multi-site multi-year averages of the baseline data sets. The annual average (+/- 1 standard deviation) baseline mixing ratios for the regions are as follows: Continental Eastern Canada=30 9 ppb, Continental Eastern US=30 10 ppb, Coastal Eastern Canada=27 9 ppb, Coastal Western Canada=19 10 ppb; Coastal Western US=39 10 ppb, Continental Western Canada=28 10 ppb and Continental Western US=46 7 ppb. Trends in the baseline mixing ratios were also found to vary by season and by geographical region. On a decadal scale, increasing baseline ozone trends (temperature-adjusted) were observed in all seasons along the Pacific coasts of Canada and the US, although the trends in California were not statistically significant. In the coastal zone of Pacific Canada, positive trends were found with a rate of increase of 0.28 0.26, 0.72 0.55, and 0.93 0.41 ppb/a in spring (MAM), summer (JJA) and winter (DJF), respectively. In the Atlantic coastal region, the trends were also positive in 3 of the 4 seasons (but only significantly so in MAM). In the high ozone precursor emission areas of the Eastern United States, decadal trends in baseline ozone are, in general, negative in the spring, summer and fall and appear to be controlled by the strong within-region changes induced by decreasing ozone precursor emissions.

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