Articles | Volume 13, issue 7
Research article
10 Apr 2013
Research article |  | 10 Apr 2013

Pollution transport from North America to Greenland during summer 2008

J. L. Thomas, J.-C. Raut, K. S. Law, L. Marelle, G. Ancellet, F. Ravetta, J. D. Fast, G. Pfister, L. K. Emmons, G. S. Diskin, A. Weinheimer, A. Roiger, and H. Schlager

Abstract. Ozone pollution transported to the Arctic is a significant concern because of the rapid, enhanced warming in high northern latitudes, which is caused, in part, by short-lived climate forcers, such as ozone. Long-range transport of pollution contributes to background and episodic ozone levels in the Arctic. However, the extent to which plumes are photochemically active during transport, particularly during the summer, is still uncertain. In this study, regional chemical transport model simulations are used to examine photochemical production of ozone in air masses originating from boreal fire and anthropogenic emissions over North America and during their transport toward the Arctic during early July 2008. Model results are evaluated using POLARCAT aircraft data collected over boreal fire source regions in Canada (ARCTAS-B) and several days downwind over Greenland (POLARCAT-France and POLARCAT-GRACE). Model results are generally in good agreement with the observations, except for certain trace gas species over boreal fire regions, in some cases indicating that the fire emissions are too low. Anthropogenic and biomass burning pollution (BB) from North America was rapidly uplifted during transport east and north to Greenland where pollution plumes were observed in the mid- and upper troposphere during POLARCAT. A model sensitivity study shows that CO levels are in better agreement with POLARCAT measurements (fresh and aged fire plumes) upon doubling CO emissions from fires. Analysis of model results, using ΔO3/ΔCO enhancement ratios, shows that pollution plumes formed ozone during transport towards the Arctic. Fresh anthropogenic plumes have average ΔO3/ΔCO enhancement ratios of 0.63 increasing to 0.92 for aged anthropogenic plumes, indicating additional ozone production during aging. Fresh fire plumes are only slightly enhanced in ozone (ΔO3/ΔCO=0.08), but form ozone downwind with ΔO3/ΔCO of 0.49 for aged BB plumes (model-based run). We estimate that aged anthropogenic and BB pollution together made an important contribution to ozone levels with an average contribution for latitudes >55° N of up to 6.5 ppbv (18%) from anthropogenic pollution and 3 ppbv (5.2%) from fire pollution in the model domain in summer 2008.

Final-revised paper