An investigation of two highest ozone episodes during the last decade in New England

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This study examined the role of meteorological processes in two of the highest ozone (O3) episodes within the last decade at monitoring sites in southern New Hampshire (NH), USA. The highest O3 levels occurred on 14 August 2002 at Thompson Farm (TF) and 22 July 2004 at Castle Springs (CS). Ozone mixing ratios in the 2002 episode showed continual high values (>100 ppbv) at the beginning of the episode, and reached 151 ppbv on 14 August. The 2004 episode consisted of one day of high O3 (>100 ppbv) on 22 July at CS with the peak level of 111 ppbv. Our analysis suggested that the August 2002 high O3 event at TF occurred under stagnant synoptic high-pressure conditions that prevailed over the entire eastern USA for an unusually extended time period. The clear skies and stable meteorological conditions resulted in accumulation of pollutants in the boundary layer. At the same time, the mesoscale low-level-jet (LLJ) played an important role in transporting air masses from the polluted Mid-Atlantic areas to the Northeast. Local land-sea-breeze circulations also added to the impact of this event. Our examination showed that the unprecedented high levels of O3 on 22 July 2004 at CS was driven by two mechanisms, stratospheric intrusion and the Appalachian lee trough (APLT), which was not found during other O3 episodes at the site in the decade long data record. This study demonstrated that unusually high O3 levels at New England rural sites were driven by multi-scale processes, and the regional/local scale processes controlled the magnitude and timing of the local pollution episodes. © 2012 by the authors.




Lai, T. L., Talbot, R., & Mao, H. (2012). An investigation of two highest ozone episodes during the last decade in New England. Atmosphere, 3(1), 59–86.

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