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2020 Projects

Summertime Ozone Behavior along a Vertical Transect near the Denver, Colorado Metropolitan Area

Tiantian Zhu ’22
Major: Environmental Science

Tiantian Zhu ’22

Major: Environmental Science

Faculty Collaborator: Professor Lynne Gratz, Environmental Science

Tropospheric ozone is an effective greenhouse gas and air pollutant that causes poor air quality as well as severe public health risks such as lung diseases. It is a secondary pollutant that forms from nitrogen oxides in the presence of sunlight and volatile organic compounds. The Denver, Colorado metropolitan area in the Northern Front Range of the Rocky Mountains is an ozone nonattainment area according to the U.S. EPA’s National Ambient Air Quality Standards. In this study, we analyze hourly ozone measurements collected by the Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment at seven sites along a vertical transect from Golden, CO (1839m ASL) to Mines Peak (3683m ASL) during summer 2017. Our analysis aims to statistically examine how ground-level ozone concentrations vary with elevation and how this relationship varies over different temporal scales. We find that the vertical ozone concentration increases by approximately 0.8 ppb per 100m, which is smaller than results from an earlier study of seasonal ozone near Boulder, Colorado. We also utilize several visualization tools, such as wind roses generated in WRPlot and ArcGIS mapping to interpret the topographical and meteorological reasons for the vertical ozone gradient. We find that diurnal wind patterns and temperature are strongly related to ozone transport along the elevation slope.

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