Articles | Volume 11, issue 6
Research article
30 Mar 2011
Research article |  | 30 Mar 2011

Determining the spatial and seasonal variability in OM/OC ratios across the US using multiple regression

H. Simon, P. V. Bhave, J. L. Swall, N. H. Frank, and W. C. Malm

Abstract. Data from the Interagency Monitoring of Protected Visual Environments (IMPROVE) network are used to estimate organic mass to organic carbon (OM/OC) ratios across the United States by extending previously published multiple regression techniques. Our new methodology addresses common pitfalls of multiple regression including measurement uncertainty, colinearity of covariates, dataset selection, and model selection. As expected, summertime OM/OC ratios are larger than wintertime values across the US with all regional median OM/OC values tightly confined between 1.80 and 1.95. Further, we find that OM/OC ratios during the winter are distinctly larger in the eastern US than in the West (regional medians are 1.58, 1.64, and 1.85 in the great lakes, southeast, and northeast regions, versus 1.29 and 1.32 in the western and central states). We find less spatial variability in long-term averaged OM/OC ratios across the US (90% of our multiyear regressions estimate OM/OC ratios between 1.37 and 1.94) than previous studies (90% fell between 1.30 and 2.10). We attribute this difference largely to the inclusion of EC as a covariate in previous regression studies. Due to the colinearity of EC and OC, we find that up to one-quarter of the OM/OC estimates in a previous study are biased low. Assumptions about OC measurement artifacts add uncertainty to our estimates of OM/OC. In addition to estimating OM/OC ratios, our technique reveals trends that may be contrasted with conventional assumptions regarding nitrate, sulfate, and soil across the IMPROVE network. For example, our regressions show pronounced seasonal and spatial variability in both nitrate volatilization and sulfate neutralization and hydration.

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