Articles | Volume 15, issue 16
Atmos. Chem. Phys., 15, 9345–9360, 2015
Atmos. Chem. Phys., 15, 9345–9360, 2015

Research article 21 Aug 2015

Research article | 21 Aug 2015

Regional-scale transport of air pollutants: impacts of Southern California emissions on Phoenix ground-level ozone concentrations

J. Li1, M. Georgescu1,2, P. Hyde3, A. Mahalov1, and M. Moustaoui1 J. Li et al.
  • 1Julie Ann Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability, School of Mathematical and Statistical Sciences, Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ 85287, USA
  • 2School of Geographical Sciences and Urban Planning, Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ 85287, USA
  • 3School for Engineering of Matter, Transport and Energy, Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ 85287, USA

Abstract. In this study, WRF-Chem is utilized at high resolution (1.333 km grid spacing for the innermost domain) to investigate impacts of southern California anthropogenic emissions (SoCal) on Phoenix ground-level ozone concentrations ([O3]) for a pair of recent exceedance episodes. First, WRF-Chem control simulations, based on the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) 2005 National Emissions Inventories (NEI05), are conducted to evaluate model performance. Compared with surface observations of hourly ozone, CO, NOX, and wind fields, the control simulations reproduce observed variability well. Simulated [O3] are comparable with the previous studies in this region. Next, the relative contribution of SoCal and Arizona local anthropogenic emissions (AZ) to ozone exceedances within the Phoenix metropolitan area is investigated via a trio of sensitivity simulations: (1) SoCal emissions are excluded, with all other emissions as in Control; (2) AZ emissions are excluded with all other emissions as in Control; and (3) SoCal and AZ emissions are excluded (i.e., all anthropogenic emissions are eliminated) to account only for Biogenic emissions and lateral boundary inflow (BILB). Based on the USEPA NEI05, results for the selected events indicate the impacts of AZ emissions are dominant on daily maximum 8 h average (DMA8) [O3] in Phoenix. SoCal contributions to DMA8 [O3] for the Phoenix metropolitan area range from a few ppbv to over 30 ppbv (10–30 % relative to Control experiments). [O3] from SoCal and AZ emissions exhibit the expected diurnal characteristics that are determined by physical and photochemical processes, while BILB contributions to DMA8 [O3] in Phoenix also play a key role.

Finally, ozone transport processes and pathways within the lower troposphere are investigated. During daytime, pollutants (mainly ozone) near the Southern California coasts are pumped into the planetary boundary-layer over the Southern California desert through the mountain chimney and pass channel effects, aiding eastward transport along the desert air basins in southern California and finally, northeastward along the lower Gila River basin in Arizona, thereby affecting Phoenix air quality during subsequent days. This study indicates that local emission controls in Phoenix need to be augmented with regional emission reductions to attain the federal ozone standard, especially if a more stringent standard is adopted in the future.

Short summary
Emission sensitivity studies, using WRF-Chem at 1.3km that was validated by observations, indicate the Arizona (AZ) emissions dominate on daily maximum 8-hr average (DMA8) [O3] in Phoenix (PHX). Southern California (SoCal) emission contribute to DMA8 [O3] for the PHX from a few ppb to over 30 ppb. [O3] from SoCal and AZ emissions exhibits diurnal characteristics. Pollutants near the SoCal coasts are transported to PHX by local circulations with different mechanisms.
Final-revised paper