Coupling between Chemical and Meteorological Processes under Persistent Cold-Air Pool Conditions: Evolution of Wintertime PM2.5 Pollution Events and N2O5 Observations in Utah's Salt Lake Valley

Munkhbayar Baasandorj, Sebastian W. Hoch, Ryan Bares, John C. Lin, Steven S. Brown, Dylan B. Millet, Randal Martin, Kerry Kelly, Kyle J. Zarzana, C. David Whiteman, William P. Dube, Gail Tonnesen, Isabel Cristina Jaramillo, John Sohl

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

36 Scopus citations


The Salt Lake Valley experiences severe fine particulate matter pollution episodes in winter during persistent cold-air pools (PCAPs). We employ measurements throughout an entire winter from different elevations to examine the chemical and dynamical processes driving these episodes. Whereas primary pollutants such as NOx and CO were enhanced twofold during PCAPs, O3 concentrations were approximately threefold lower. Atmospheric composition varies strongly with altitude within a PCAP at night with lower NOx and higher oxidants (O3) and oxidized reactive nitrogen (N2O5) aloft. We present observations of N2O5 during PCAPs that provide evidence for its role in cold-pool nitrate formation. Our observations suggest that nighttime and early morning chemistry in the upper levels of a PCAP plays an important role in aerosol nitrate formation. Subsequent daytime mixing enhances surface PM2.5 by dispersing the aerosol throughout the PCAP. As pollutants accumulate and deplete oxidants, nitrate chemistry becomes less active during the later stages of the pollution episodes. This leads to distinct stages of PM2.5 pollution episodes, starting with a period of PM2.5 buildup and followed by a period with plateauing concentrations. We discuss the implications of these findings for mitigation strategies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)5941-5950
Number of pages10
JournalEnvironmental Science and Technology
Issue number11
StatePublished - Jun 6 2017

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The wintertime PM2.5 study was supported by the Utah Division of Air Quality. Additional funding came from the United States Environmental Protection Agency's Community Scale Air Toxics grant no. 96834601 (M.B.), from the Office of Naval Research award no. N00014-11-1-0709 (S.W.H. and C.D.W.), and from NSF grant no. 1723337 (S.W.H.).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017 American Chemical Society.


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