Articles | Volume 9, issue 10
26 May 2009
 | 26 May 2009

A multimethodological approach to study the spatial distribution of air pollution in an Alpine valley during wintertime

R. Schnitzhofer, M. Norman, A. Wisthaler, J. Vergeiner, F. Harnisch, A. Gohm, F. Obleitner, A. Fix, B. Neininger, and A. Hansel

Abstract. In order to investigate the spatial distribution of air pollutants in the Inn valley (Tyrol, Austria) during wintertime, a joint field campaign of the three research projects ALPNAP (Monitoring and Minimisation of Traffic-Induced Noise and Air Pollution Along Major Alpine Transport Routes), INNAP (Boundary Layer Structure in the Inn Valley during high Air Pollution) and INNOX (NOx-structure in the Inn Valley during High Air Pollution) was carried out in January/February 2006. In addition to continuous ground based measurements, vertical profiles of various air pollutants and meteorological parameters were obtained on six selected days. For in-situ investigations, a tethered balloon was used to analyse the lowest atmospheric layers, 0–500 m above the valley bottom (a.v.b.), and a research aircraft sampled at 150–2200 m a.v.b. An aircraft equipped with an aerosol backscatter lidar performed nadir measurements at 3000 m a.v.b. Combined results from a typical day show a strongly polluted layer up to about 125 m a.v.b. in the morning. Around midday concentrations on the valley floor decrease indicating some vertical air exchange despite thermally stable conditions. Strong vertical and horizontal gradients with enhanced pollution levels along the sunny side of the valley up to 1300 m a.v.b. were observed in the afternoon. This vertical mixing due to thermally or dynamically driven slope winds reduces the concentration of air pollutants at the bottom of the valley and causes the formation of elevated pollution layers.

Final-revised paper