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The Impacts of Transported Wildfire Smoke Aerosols On Surface Air Quality In New York State: A Case Study In Summer 2018


Wildfire smoke aerosols, once emitted, can transport over long distances and affect surface air quality in downwind regions. In New York State (NYS), fine particulate matter (PM2.5) concentration continues to decrease due to anthropogenic emission reductions and regulatory initiatives in recent years. Smoke aerosols, however, are projected to increase, making them the dominant source of PM2.5. Thus, the influences of smoke aerosols could become more important in the future. In this study, the long-range transport of smoke aerosols, and their impacts on local air quality over NYS in mid-August 2018 were investigated using satellite measurements, ground-based networks, and model products. Satellite measurements showed extensive fire activities over the northwestern United States (US) during August 8th – 10th. Air quality monitoring sites in NYS reported a threefold increase in average PM2.5 concentration (from 8.4 ± 3.4 ?g m?3 to 24.8 ± 4.0 ?g m?3) on August 15th – 16th, while the ground-based profiler network detected aerosol layers at 2–5 km across the state. Analysis of backward trajectories revealed that the plumes originated from wildfires, transported through southern Canada and arrived at the east coast during a period of 5–7 days. The increased PM2.5 in NYS can be attributed to boundary layer entrainment and vertical mixing of the aloft transported smoke aerosols down to the surface. The NYS mesoscale weather network (NYSM), which is originally designed for severe weather monitoring, demonstrate the capability to probe the lower atmosphere and provide the vertical extent information of air pollutants.

Article / Publication Data
Available Metadata
Accepted On
March 14, 2020
Fiscal Year
Peer Reviewed
Publication Name
Atmospheric Environment
Published On
April 15, 2020
Publisher Name
Science Direct
Print Volume
Page Range
Article 117415
Submitted On
November 18, 2019


Authors who have authored or contributed to this publication.

  • Wei-Ting Hung - lead None
  • Ravan Ahmadov - eighth Gsl
    Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences, University of Colorado Boulder
    NOAA/Global Systems Laboratory
  • Eric P. James - ninth Gsl
    Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences, University of Colorado Boulder
    NOAA/Global Systems Laboratory