An aerosol climatology for a rapidly growing arid region (southern Arizona): Major aerosol species and remotely sensed aerosol properties

Armin Sorooshian, Anna Wonaschtz, Elias G. Jarjour, Bryce I. Hashimoto, Bret A. Schichtel, Eric A. Betterton

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Abstract

This study reports a comprehensive characterization of atmospheric aerosol particle properties in relation to meteorological and back trajectory data in the southern Arizona region, which includes two of the fastest growing metropolitan areas in the United States (Phoenix and Tucson). Multiple data sets (MODIS, AERONET, OMI/TOMS, MISR, GOCART, ground-based aerosol measurements) are used to examine monthly trends in aerosol composition, aerosol optical depth (AOD), and aerosol size. Fine soil, sulfate, and organics dominate PM 2.5 mass in the region. Dust strongly influences the region between March and July owing to the dry and hot meteorological conditions and back trajectory patterns. Because monsoon precipitation begins typically in July, dust levels decrease, while AOD, sulfate, and organic aerosol reach their maximum levels because of summertime photochemistry and monsoon moisture. Evidence points to biogenic volatile organic compounds being a significant source of secondary organic aerosol in this region. Biomass burning also is shown to be a major contributor to the carbonaceous aerosol budget in the region, leading to enhanced organic and elemental carbon levels aloft at a sky-island site north of Tucson (Mt. Lemmon). Phoenix exhibits different monthly trends for aerosol components in comparison with the other sites owing to the strong influence of fossil carbon and anthropogenic dust. Trend analyses between 1988 and 2009 indicate that the strongest statistically significant trends are reductions in sulfate, elemental carbon, and organic carbon, and increases in fine soil during the spring (March-May) at select sites. These results can be explained by population growth, land-use changes, and improved source controls.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberD19205
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research Atmospheres
Volume116
Issue number19
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2011

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ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geophysics
  • Forestry
  • Oceanography
  • Aquatic Science
  • Ecology
  • Water Science and Technology
  • Soil Science
  • Geochemistry and Petrology
  • Earth-Surface Processes
  • Atmospheric Science
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Space and Planetary Science
  • Palaeontology

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